Welcome to the Pop Goes the Classroom Blog. It is my hope that the blog will become a collection of shared resources that everyone contributes to.
Before we get too far however, I think its important for us all to understand what popular culture. I’ve taken the liberty of copying this from Wikipedia.
There are multiple competing definitions of popular culture. John Storey, in Cultural Theory and Popular Culture, discusses six definitions. The quantitative definition of culture has the problem that much “high culture” (e.g. television dramatizations of Jane Austen) is widely favoured. “Pop culture” is also defined as the culture that is “left over” when we have decided what high culture is. However, many works straddle or cross the boundaries, e.g. Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. Storey draws attention to the forces and relations which sustain this difference such as the educational system.
A third definition equates pop culture with Mass Culture. This is seen as a commercial culture, mass produced for mass consumption. From a Western European perspective, this may be compared to American culture. Alternatively, “pop culture” can be defined as an “authentic” culture of the people, but this can be problematic because there are many ways of defining the “people”. Storey argues that there is a political dimension to popular culture; neo-Gramscian hegemony theory “… sees popular culture as a site of struggle between the ‘resistance’ of subordinate groups in society and the forces of ‘incorporation’ operating in the interests of dominant groups in society.” A postmodernist approach to popular culture would “no longer recognize the distinction between high and popular culture’
Storey emphasizes that popular culture emerges from the urbanization of the industrial revolution, which identifies the term with the usual definitions of ‘mass culture’. Studies of Shakespeare (by Weimann, Barber or Bristol, for example) locate much of the characteristic vitality of his drama in its participation in Renaissance popular culture, while contemporary practitioners like Dario Fo and John McGrath use popular culture in its Gramscian sense that includes ancient folk traditions (the commedia dell’arte for example).
Popular culture changes constantly and occurs uniquely in place and time. It forms currents and eddies, and represents a complex of mutually interdependent perspectives and values that influence society and its institutions in various ways. For example, certain currents of pop culture may originate from, (or diverge into) a subculture, representing perspectives with which the mainstream popular culture has only limited familiarity. Items of popular culture most typically appeal to a broad spectrum of the public.