Intro to Lit: Culture & Lit (Pop Culture as Literature)

ENG 272: Pop Culture as Literature


In this writing-intensive course, we will consider what we learn when we take pop culture seriously as an object of intense literary study. We will look at everything from memes to music videos to Instagram influencers to TV, and beyond, to think about how our senses of our everyday lives shifts when we subject the media we interact with every day to the level of scrutiny usually saved for “works of literature.” Much of the focus of the class will be concerned with pop culture that deals with race, gender, and inequality. There will be units themed around Cultural Appropriation, around Problematic Favs, and on Pop Culture & Social Movements.

While looking at and writing about these cultural objects, we’ll dedicate a good amount of time to reading outstanding cultural criticism, and you’ll use those pieces of writing as models to develop your own writing skills. Authors we will read include: Jia Tolentino, Lauren Michele Jackson, Doreen St. Felix, and Jenna Wortham.


Format: Asynchronous online. Recorded lectures and materials via Laulima/YouTube, class discussions will take place on Slack.

Books: No books required. All materials will be available online.

Assignments: In addition to weekly Slack posts, you will write ~4 short pieces of cultural criticism: a review, an analysis of a meme or a trend, a personal essay about a problematic fav, and an essay on cultural appropriations. The final assignment will be a portfolio format.