WDW 154H Popular Culture Today II: Protest and Popular Culture
“Millions of people take to the streets of major cities around the globe to protest the Iraq war in 2003.” “More than 35 cities and towns across Canada hold rallies to stop the war in Afghanistan.” “The Arab Spring calls for democratic change as demonstrators filled Egypt’s Tahir Square in 2011.” “Black Lives Matter protests sweep American cities in 2016.” These and other headlines confirm that protests, recently almost all orchestrated through social media, continue to form an important aspect of popular culture, but these protests are only the latest stage in the evolution of an organized, citizen initiated campaign for social, economic and political justice that has intersected with popular culture.
This course examines how various forms of popular culture, such as films, music, art, literature, TV, internet sites and social media, reflect and promote protest movements, past and present. Special emphasis will be placed on the interplay of popular culture with the peace movement/anti-war protests, the civil rights movement/anti-discrimination protests, the environmental movement/anti-pollution protests, the Aboriginal rights movement/anti-colonialism protests, the occupy movement/anti-globalization and economic injustice protests and Black Lives Matter/anti-racism protests. For example, this convergence of protest and popular culture was recently highlighted with Beyoncé’s “Formation” half-time performance at the 2016 Super bowl game and with Bob Dylan, the composer of leading protest songs of the 1960s, being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
The course, based on a variety of interdisciplinary readings and other forms of popular culture, is taught in an interactive seminar format with co-curricular sessions with guest speakers and field trips and will assist students in developing skills in academic research and writing, as well as in presentations and discussions.