History, Identity and Popular Culture


Comparative Studies of Ideas and Cultures (3rd level)

Cultural History

Course code: 53

Year of Study: Without

Course principal:
Assoc. Prof. Ana Hofman, Ph.D.


Workload: lectures 60 hours, seminar 30 hours

Course type: general elective

Languages: Slovene, English

Learning and teaching methods: lectures, discussion classes

Objectives and competences:

Why is popular culture often dismissed as trivia, condemned as propaganda and a tool of mass deception? In which ways popular culture contributes to the rethinking the dominant approaches in historiography and history-memory relation? As a field that has, since its inception, been centrally concerned with the relationship between culture and power, popular culture studies module offers unique perspectives to contemporary life. This course provides students with a sustained opportunity for critical reflection on the current cultural, economic and political trajectories. In this course, students get acquainted with the dominant approaches to popular culture studies and various methods that investigate both popular culture in relation to history and identity. The overall objective is to explore how popular culture, in all its various forms, not only reflects the world around us but also how it influences the way we perceive the world. To better understand how contemporary culture shapes our lives, the course examines a wide range of subjects (film, television, music, advertising, the internet and geography) by using a wide range of critical approaches (such as genre theory, gender studies, semiotics, and political economy).

Students will: 

1) understand the role of popular culture and the way it reflects and influences culture and society;


2) examine the social and cultural contexts of popular culture products and practices; 3) explore the connection between popular culture and social values.


The course will provide an intense and rewarding pedagogical experience for postgraduate students, who will have the opportunity to learn from lectures delivered by established scholars but also by leading scholars work in the field of popular culture from around the world as invited speakers. This is a highly participatory module that requires that students come to class having read and engaged with the assigned articles. This module will help them to develop critical reading skills that can be applied to both scholarly and popular texts.



None required.


Content (Syllabus outline):

1) What is popular culture, and why do we study it?


2) Cultural and critical theory

  • Raymond Williams: “The analyses of culture”
  • Stuart Hall and Paddy Whannel: Popular arts


3) Theorising popular culture 

  • Marxism
  • The Frankfurt schoo
  • Postmodernism
  • Introduction to Semiotics
  • Feminist theory 
  • Post-Marxism and Cultural studies


4) Popular culture, subjectivity and identity

  • Race and ethnicity 
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Sexuality and the body


5) Popular culture, hegemony and cultural imperialism

  • Subcultures and countercultures


6) Genre theory

  • Literature
  • Music
  • TV


7) Popular culture in socialist Central and Southeastern Europe


8) Popular culture in postsocialist societies (focus on former Yugoslavia)


Selected readings:

  • Adorno, Theodor. 1991. The culture industry. London: Routledge.  
  • Appadurai, Arjun, 2007, “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy” in Media and Cultural Studies: Key Works, Meenakshi Durham and Douglas Kellner eds. Malden Mass: Blackwell, 584-603.
  • Bennett, Andy, 2005, Culture and everyday life, London: SAGE, 2005. 
  • Berger, A.A. 1992, Popular Culture Genres: Theories and Texts, Newbury Park: Sage. 
  • Bourdieu, P. 1993, The Field of Cultural Production, Cambridge: Polity P. 
  • Day, Gary ed., 1990. Readings in Popular Culture: Trivial Pursuits? London: Macmillan.
  • Featherstone, M. (1991), Consumer Culture and Postmodernism, London: Sage. 
  • Fiske, John, 1989, Understanding Popular Culture. Boston: Unwin Hyman.
  • Gay du, P. (1997) 
  • Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of the Walkman, London: Sage. 
  • Geertz, Clifford. 1973: “Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture,” in The  Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York: Basic Books.
  • Hall, Stuart 1980: “Encoding, Decoding” in: Culture, Media, Language: Working Papers in Cultural Studies, 1972-79, London: Hutchinson.
  • Lash, Scott and Celia Lury. 2007. Global culture industry: the mediation of things. Scott Lash & Cambridge: Polity.
  • O’Brien Susie and Imre Szeman. 2004. Popular Culture: A User’s Guide: Scarborough ON: Thompson Nelson.
  • McRobbie, A. 1991. Feminism and Youth Culture, London: Macmillan. 
  • McRobbie, A. 1994. Postmodernism and Popular Culture, London: Routledge. 
  • Perica, Vjekoslav and Mitja Velikonja, 2012. Nebeska Jugoslavija: interakcije političkih mitologija i pop-kulture, Beograd: Biblioteka XX vek.
  • Storey, John. 2006. “What is Popular Culture?”, Chapter 1 of Cultural Theory and Popular Culture. 
  • Strinati, D. 1995. An Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture, London: Routledge.
  • Senjković, Reana. 2008. Izgubljeno u prijenosu: pop iskustvo soc. culture, Zagreb: Institut za etnologiju i folkloristiku. 
  • William, Irwin and Jorge J. E. Gracia, eds. 2007. Philosophy and the interpretation of pop culture. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.



Active participation in discussion classes is required, and a short written paper (6000-8000 words) in which the student analyses a particular problem and demonstrates conversance with relevant literature.


Cultural history of violence

Assoc. Prof. Petra Svoljšak, Ph.D.,


History, Identity and Popular Culture

Assoc. Prof. Ana Hofman, Ph.D.,


Media, memory and history

Assoc. Prof. Petra Svoljšak, Ph.D.,


Memory and History

Prof. Oto Luthar, Ph.D.,


National Memory in Historical Perspective

Prof. Oto Luthar, Ph.D.,


Remembering Socialism in Central and Southeastern Europe

Prof. Tanja Petrović, Ph.D.,