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Philosophy and Popular Culture

PHIL 2003

This course critically explores philosophical questions and issues in the context of contemporary popular culture. On the one hand, it considers more general questions about the nature and function of popular culture, including how popular culture has been defined and "theorized"; the connections between popular culture and the traditional and new media; the economic bases and functions of popular culture; and the political implications of popular culture. On the other, it explores particular philosophical issues--historical, ethical, political, aesthetic, and metaphysical--as they appear in selected areas or examples of popular culture: literature, film, the visual arts, digital media, graphic novels, music, television, etc. The aims are both to enhance students' critical understanding of the ways in which philosophical assumptions and ideas underlie popular culture and to present traditional and contemporary philosophical arguments, movements, and ideas using examples drawn from popular culture as reference points. As examples, we might explore ethical dilemmas posed in the "Sopranos" or "Mad Men"; mind-body problems in the "Matrix" or "Avatar"; or metaphysical issues in "Donny Darko" or "Run, Lola, Run." This course counts toward the Analytical Inquiry: Society and Culture requirement.