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CLS4835 - Popular Culture and Ethics

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Millicent Vladiv-Glover


Not offered in 2007


The course will model ethics through an investigation of M Bakhtin's version of structuralism, in particular his work on the philosophy of the act, in the context of poststructural critical theory. The concept of alterity will be investigated through additional theoretical and literary texts, notably, E Levinas' Etique et infinite, J-L Nancy's theory of community, G Deleuze's philosophy of action and A Badiou's 'objectless subject'. These theoretical materials will be used to construct a model of ethics through which to analyse and critique literary, visual and popular culture texts as well as theoretical approaches to the 'culture industry'.


On successful completion of the course, students should be familiar with a model of ethics derived from M M Bakhtin's Philosophy of the Act, in the context of supplementary theoretical texts of poststructuralism (Levinas, Nancy, Badiou). With this model of ethics as a tool, students will be able to critique a variety of popular culture texts as well as Modernist and postmodern theoretical approaches to popular culture. In addition, fifth year students will draw on the Modernist manifestoes of art (Tolstoy, Benjamin, Heidegger, Adorno) to construct a model of popular culture ethics. Through one of the assessment options, students will acquire skills in writing a publishable research paper.


Class paper (1,500 words): 20%;
Essay (4,500 words): 50%;
Take home exam (,500 words): 30%

Contact hours

One three-hour seminar per week