Introduction to cultural studies

Zuständigkeit:  Prof. Dr. Nicole Maruo-Schröder

Veranstaltungstyp: Vorlesung

Zeit: Mo., 14:00-16:00 Uhr

Ort: M 201

Cultural Studies (which is not Landeskunde – see below) has become one of the most vibrant fields of research during the past decades. It is an interdisciplinary field that draws its theories, methods, and concepts from a variety of disciplines ranging from literary, film and media studies to anthropology, material culture studies and sociology. Briefly (and simply) put, cultural studies looks at how norms, values, and ideologies are constructed and maintained in societies through representation (i.e., the circulation of texts) and practices. Moreover, cultural studies explores how power and power relations are negotiated in societies with the help of (representational) practices.

This course serves as an introduction to theories, methods, and concepts used in cultural studies. Hence, we will work our way through theoretical texts (e.g. on culture, communication, representation, and ideology) and discuss key concepts (e.g. gender, race, ethnicity, and class). We will also apply these theories and concepts to concrete phenomena from Anglo-American culture (literature, film, advertisements, fashion etc.) to see how they might help to understand the complexity of these texts and cultural practices. Analyzing cultural practices, we will, of course, also consider how categories such as race, gender, and class interact with the construction and performance of individual, collective, and national identities. To avoid misunderstanding: this course is NOT an introduction or overview of Anglo-American cultures, i.e. what in German is called Landeskunde; there are more than enough books on this topic, which you can read if you are interested in British and U.S. American traditions, customs, food, geography, school systems and the like.

Although this course is a lecture, I expect you to prepare reading assignments (some of which are quite demanding) as well as participate actively throughout the course.


Required reading will be made available on OLAT. There will be a cultural studies-reserve shelf in the library, where you will find additional reading material if you are interested or want to read up on issues we discuss in the lecture.

Course Objectives:

By the end of the course, students should

  • be familiar with the central issues and theories of cultural studies
  • be able to explain and work with key concepts used in cultural studies
  • have a critical understanding of the significance of cultural practices and how they are used to make meaning
  • be aware of the close connections between cultural practices, texts, and social power structures
    • be able to analyze (popular) culture using theoretical approaches and concepts