wall graffiti featuring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka

Power & Commodity Culture

College Writing, L59 117

What does your steak order have to do with your politics? How might our taste in film relate to our taste in sneakers? How does writing itself contribute to larger media discourse? This course will explore how our choices as consumers, creators, and writers are mediated by broader cultural forces such as film, foodways, music, television, art, and social media. "Commodity culture" refers to what aspects of culture can be evaluated in terms of supposed "worth" or economic value. Here students will think critically, draft, take risks, and revise to present work that has been elevated to college level writing and argumentation. Readings will explore a range of cultural texts and topics--whether it’s the popularity of Grey Poupon in hip hop or racial tension in the St. Louis restaurant scene, the role of smartphones and social media in the rise of self-branding, or the blurred line between high art and instagram. As avid readers and writers, we will delve into the details of rhetorical context to approach both published media and our own essays as instances of cultural production. No prior knowledge of foodways, art history, or media studies is necessary for this course, but arrive hungry with an appetite for a nuanced appreciation of how something as seemingly innocuous as cultural output intersects with larger structures of status and power.

black DJ mixer

Why rappers love Grey Poupon

Vox charts the rise of hip hop's favorite condiment.

The Instagrammable Charm of the Bourgeoisie

The Instagrammable Charm of the Bourgeoisie

Faculty