Communication Studies (CMNS) 358

Popular Culture and the Media (Revision 2)

CMNS 358

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online with video/audio components.* Online-enhanced.
*Overseas students, please contact the University Library before registering in a course that has an audio/visual component.

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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CMNS 358 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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This course introduces you to the field of cultural studies and covers two bodies of literature: the critical and scholarly work of cultural studies and the mass-produced entertainments of popular culture. To understand the critical readings in this course, you must recognize and appreciate your watching skills, and unpack the assumptions and habits they make invisible. Not only must you learn to read popular culture but you must relearn and become self-conscious of the skill sets you have internalized. Reading both the critical and the entertaining is a balancing act this course will help you perform well.


Part 1: Cultural Theory: Alternative Approaches and Key Concepts

  • Unit 1: Alternative Approaches to Cultural Studies: Frankfurt, Birmingham, Toronto, and Annales
  • Unit 2: Marxism and Cultural Theory: Culture as Product
  • Unit 3: More Cultural Theory: Hegemony, Power, Engineering Consent, and Archetypes

Part 2: Culture as Product: The Dialectic between Creativity and Profit

  • Unit 4: The Business of Culture
  • Unit 5: Rock Music as Creative Product: The Rise and Fall of a Genre?
  • Unit 6: Star Power and Journeys to the Stars

Part 3: Visual Culture: Remediated Media, and Graphic Genres

  • Unit 7: Genres, Zombies, and Fandom
  • Unit 8: Remediation: From Comic to Graphic Novel and Beyond
  • Unit 9: Television as Ritual: Information, Reality, and Ideology in Game Shows, Talk Shows, and News

Part 4: Reinforcing our Prejudices? Gender, Apocalypse, Pulp, Pornography, and the Internet

  • Unit 10: Constructing Subjects: Femininity, Masculinity, and the Social Construction of Gender
  • Unit 11: Visions of the Future: Heroes, Utopias, Dystopias, and the Apocalypse
  • Unit 12: Varieties of Commercial Art: Low, High, National, and Global
  • Unit 13: The Internet: Sex, Social Media, and Narrow-Casting


To receive credit for CMNS 358, you must receive 50 percent on the final exam and achieve a course composite grade of at least D (50 percent) to pass course. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Crosswords/Self Tests (13) Assignment 1 Assignment 2 Assignment 3 Final Exam Total
13% 17% 20% 25% 25% 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Fiske, John. Television Culture. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2011.

Moore, Alan, and David Lloyd. V for Vendetta. New York: Vertigo, 1998/2005.


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Longhurst, Brian, and Danijela Bogdanović. Popular Music and Society. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2014.

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

Online Materials

Online materials include a course information file, a student manual, and an extensive study guide covering all the units of the course. Required reading assignments (other than from the textbooks) are available online through the course digital reading room.

Library Materials

Required viewing and listening materials other than those referred to above can be borrowed from the Athabasca University Library.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the CMNS 358 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least D (50 percent) on the examination.

Part 1: Exam Part 2: Exam Total
50% 50% 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, November 12, 2014.

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