Certificate in Pop Culture

Gain insights into the dense web of artistic, economic, social, and political forces that shape aesthetic practices, identity paradigms, and social life within and across contemporary global cultures. In the process, become a leader in analyzing how participation in economies of entertainment inform ideologies and practices — a skill that is vital in the heavily mediated society of today.

This certificate complements degree programs by uniquely broadening worldviews and enhancing skill sets in the 21st-century academic sphere, job market, and society.

Courses focus on commodities, consumer behaviors, fiction, film, gaming, music, performance, social networks, television, and visual arts, to identify social trends in a competitive job market.

Explore complex problems and ask complex questions about contemporary cultural developments with attention to specific historical and regional contexts, and to the transnational flow of popular artifacts, aesthetics, and practices. Discover an appreciation for the multiplicity of cultural past, and for a diversity of identities, experiences, and voices in the present.

Faculty from the College of Arts & Letters and College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts work, research, and teach in fields such as the history of culture, literature studies, film, television, and media studies, performance studies, musicology, folklore studies, sports studies, and area studies, with emphases in popular media, performance, and practice . Gain exposure to a broad range of texts and contexts, and a variety of theories and methods used to research pop culture produced in the contemporary period.

Critically examine present-day attitudes, mores, and customs across geographic landscapes (e.g., the United States, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia) in connection with relevant scholarship to further develop and demonstrate communication, leadership, and analytical skills around three main focus areas:

  • Currency of Social Trends
    Identify and investigate how and why social trends that influence and are influenced by pop culture impact ways of knowing and being across contemporary societies through the study of social issues in the popular literary, visual, auditory, and performance arts; the politics of fandom communities (e.g., cosplayers, gamers, Comic Con, and fan artists); and the economics of pop cultural consumption.
  • Currency of Diverse Populations
    Prepare for a position in a competitive job market (e.g., nonprofit organizations, political analysis, law enforcement, and public education) to critique misguided understandings and increase sensitivity in a globalized world. Current debates about race (e.g., Black Lives Matter), gender (e.g., #GamerGate and #MeToo), and environment (e.g., global warming initiatives) require analysis of countercultural movements that find expression in pop culture and inform popular discourse.
  • Currency of New Technologies and Information Systems
    Be in the forefront of naming, creating, and anticipating new and novel popular technological, multimedia, and information system revolutions of mass culture (e.g. emergent gaming technologies, born-digital texts, meme culture, and social media activism).

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to: 

  • Identify how pop culture informs and is informed by ways of knowing and being across contemporary societies, both local and global
  • Engage critically and affectively with the diversity of dominant and non-dominant perspectives that find expression in popular texts and practices
  • Comprehend the role of traditional and emergent technologies, media forms, and communications vehicles in the creation, proliferation, and analysis of pop culture

Required Course (3 Units)

  • HUM 410 Studies in Popular Culture

Choose One Course (3 Units)

  • DANCE 281 Dance, Popular Culture, and Identity
  • JMS 210 Social Media in the Digital Age
  • JMS 408 Principles of Media Studies
  • LDT 515 Games, Play, and Learning
  • MUSIC 151 Introduction to Music
  • MUSIC 345 World Music in Contemporary Life
  • MUSIC 351 Great Music
  • P A 582 War, the State, and Governance: U.S. Perspectives
  • TFM 160 Cinema as Art
  • TFM 363 International Cinema
  • TFM 364A History of Film Classics
  • TFM 364B History of Film Classics
  • TFM 430 History of Prime-Time Television

Choose Three Courses (9 Units)

  • CCS 400 Mexican Images in Film
  • LATAM 400 Mexican Images in Film
  • C LT 584 Topics in Comparative Horror Studies
  • EUROP 424 European Cinema
  • FRENC 424 French Cinema and Theory
  • GERMN 320 German Film
  • HIST 537 Star Trek, Culture, and History 
  • HUM 380 Japanese Culture
  • JAPAN 380 Japanese Culture
  • HUM 409 The Future
  • ITAL 426 Italian American Culture
  • PORT 307 Brazilian Music and Culture
  • LATAM 307 Brazilian Music and Culture
  • REL S 356 Hip Hop and Religion
  • RWS 250 Rhetoric in Everyday Life
  • RWS 414 Rhetoric in Visual Culture
  • RUSSN 250 Russian Culture in a Digital World
  • RUSSN 310 Russian and East European Cinema
  • SOC 335 Sociology of Popular Culture
  • WMNST 355 Feminist Approaches to Popular Culture


John Putman, Ph.D.
Email: [email protected].