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Popular Culture

Terms for ENGL 1117: Intro to Popular Culture

Culture (forms) “Refinement of mind, taste, and manners; artistic and intellectual development. Hence: the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively”
Culture (practice) “The distinctive ideas, customs, social behaviour, products, or way of life of a particular nation, society, people, or period.”
Popular Culture (Basic Class Definition) Manifestations of human intellectual achievement…that are liked by a lot of people.
Popular Culture (First 3 Storey Definitions) 1. “Culture that is widely favoured or well liked by many people” 2. Any piece of culture that is not high culture. 3. “Mass Culture” or “Commercial Culture.”
Popular Culture (Second 3 Storey Definitions) 4. "Culture that originates from ‘the people’” 5. An exchange between dominant and subordinate groups. 6. Just culture.
Popularis Popular. Of or belonging to the people.
Hegemony Predominance of one group over another.
Genre “A type of text recognized by particular conventions of form and content which are shared by other texts of that type. Audience expectations...are ‘managed’ by genre conventions.”
Meta-gerne Genres that dominant conspicuously among all other genres (comedy, romance, action)
Sub-genre A subset or smaller component of a genre (the spy novel, romance comedy, etc.)
Comedy “Any humorous discourse designed to entertain and amuse an audience”
Sitcom “Genre exploiting the comic interaction of stock characters in stock situations. Exploits the...tensions between members of a family...friends or workmates, in some shared social space....typically half-hour programmes which... are usually self-contained”
Stock Character “A stereotyped character easily recognized by readers or audiences from recurrent appearances in literary or folk tradition, usually within a specific genre such as comedy or fairy tale.”
Ideology A set of ideas/ideals that become naturalized among all people in society and are reflected in and transmitted by material practice. Ideology changes according to the historical moment.
Semiotics “The Study of signs, both visual and linguistic, and their function in communication.”
Signifier/Signified Signifier - a word or image intended to make meaning. Signified - the meaning made by the word or image.
Representation “The process of depicting...something in some specific semiotic fashion....the intention...the historical, cultural and social contexts...the purpose...and what it is designed to depict all play a role in how it is interpreted and received.”
Satire “A genre in literature, film, and other media which is used to deflate, ridicule, and censure the perceived folly or immorality of what is represented... Tools include irony, sarcasm, wit, caricature, exaggeration, distortion, and parody.”
Parody “A work written in mocking imitation of the style of another work, that style being exaggerated or applied to an incongruous subject.”
Capitalism “An economic system in which property and the means of production are privately owned. It is motivated by profit and based on the idea of competition, enterprise and the freedom of choice.”
Consumerism The buying of material goods.
Marxism Critiques capitalism by suggesting that it upholds dominant groups and subordinates the working classes... in part through popular culture.
Mokumentary A "mock" or parody documentary.
Identity The sameness of a person in all circumstances, and the set of characteristics that distinguishes them from others.
Collective Identity A characteristic by which many people identify themselves in the same way (ex nation).
Nation An imagined community. A community (or collective identity) built in the minds of people, based in geographic space and often shared ideology.
Transgression “The action of transgressing or passing beyond the bounds of legality or right; a violation of law, duty, or command; disobedience, trespass, sin.” Seen by theorists as natural and instinctual and as an important part of popular culture.
Moral Panic When a new (typically transgressive) trend in society is greeted with a strong (moral) reaction from society against that trend.
Carnivalesque A celebration of transgression in literary and popular texts. Relies on the idea that transgression is natural and instinctual and celebrates it by subverting and making fun of dominant social orders.
Romance “A cross-media genre of popular fiction in which a positively-portrayed love relationship (conventionally male-female) dominates plots. Mood is predominantly sentimental or emotional, and love is presented as a saving grace.”
Musical “An internationally popular film genre, featuring music, song, and dance in varying combinations, often intertwined with a romance plot with a happy ending.”
Blockbuster Film A big budget, typically star studded film meant to bring in huge amounts of money at the box office.
Gender “The social construction of male and female identity as distinct from sex, the biologically-based distinction between men and women.”
Performative Used in relation to gender, this refers to the idea that gender is a learned social behaviour that is performed by every individual. Mannerisms, dress, ways of speaking, etc. all play a part.
Feminism “The view that women and men should be treated equally and the advocacy of women’s rights.”
Patriarchy A social system in which men rule over women. Early feminist pop culture scholars felt popular culture was patriarchal.
Objectification The dehumanizing of a person by focusing on his or her physical form and turning him or her into an object.
Popular Fiction “A fast-selling, high-volume product that, typically, leaves little or no residue…Rate-of-sale and replaceability (this year's best-sellers are rarely last year's) are two key criteria.” As opposed to literary fiction.
Chicklit A subgenre of romance that is meant to appeal to young women and deals with topics relevant to their lives. Tends to feature romantic relationships.
Consumer Culture The cultural fixation on buying things and experiences.
Subculture “A group of people who identify together and deviate from dominant social norms.” (Ex. Goth)
Counterculture "A group of people who identify together against social norms to challenge those norms (often for political purpose)." (Ex. Hippies)
Young Adult Literature “The literary novel with an adolescent hero or heroine seen coming to terms with the world and self." Features a teenage protagonist. Dialogue reflects teenage speech. The point of view is that of a teenager. The events and problems relate to teenagers.
Everyman A character in popular culture (often fiction) without clear and specific characteristics who can act as a stand in for anyone. His or her indistinct identity contributes to a text's escapism.
Escapism “A retreat from the problems, routines, and tensions of everyday reality by seeking distraction or relaxation in entertainment or fantasy”
Adventure “A genre often directed towards a male audience that depicts a hero or group of heroes engaged in exotic and dangerous activities (often) to achieve an honourable outcome of some kind.”
Action “Foregrounds spectacular movement of bodies, vehicles and weapons, and state-of-the-art special effects... Fast-paced, pared down, goal-orientated, narrative structure. Visceral, exciting [experience]...Characters pursue an objective within a time limit.
Comic “An illustrated narrative told in a series of frames or panels accompanied by dialogue as appropriate. It can be as short as two frames or fill a complete comic book; a single panel is a cartoon.”
Superhero “A benevolent fictional character with superhuman powers, typically one who features in a comic strip or film.”
Opposition The idea that words (signs) are defined by their opposite (night/day; Good\Evil; Black/White) and that one is prioritized over the other.
Fantasy Literature A work of fiction that features magic and the supernatural, a secondary world (or combination of the primary and secondary worlds), belief in that world, a relatable protagonist, and a confrontation of the ordinary and the fabulous.
Mythopoeic "A form of literature that has the structure, look and feel of a myth, but is in fact a contemporary creation rather than a story passed down by tradition.”
Archetype “A primary symbol, action, setting, or character‐type that is found repeatedly in myth, folklore, and literature.” Archetypal characters include heroes, villains, helpers, etc.
Mythic Hero The hero is superior in kind and environment – Gods and demigods
Romantic Hero The hero is superior in degree and environment – legendary heroes
High-Mimetic Hero The hero is superior in degree but not in environment – Shakespearean Heroes
Low-Mimetic Hero The hero is not superior to us – regular humans
Ironic Hero The hero is inferior in power or intelligence to us.
Catharsis The release of pent up emotions that occurs through reading/watching art. Critics argue that violence on television allows for release of pent up aggression that might otherwise be enacted in real life.
Orientalism The idea that "the orient" is a discursive (imaginative) and racist production created by the West. The West defines itself as other to the East which it characterizes as backwards, unenlightened, sexually deviant, unhealthy, etc.
Minstrelsy A popular performance style in 19th (and 20th) century America wherein white performers wore blackface and mimicked African American styles of dance and song in exaggerated and racist fashion.
Ballade Opera A popular style of opera in 17th and 18th century England. Narrative was set to music and the tone was often comedic or happy in form.
Popular Music Music that is commercially successful and well liked by many people.
Created by: kmmwalton
Popular Literature sets




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