Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Popular Culture

Tutor: Roger Fagge (


What is ‘popular culture’?

How significant was the US in the emergence of globalised patterns of popular culture?

What insights did Walter Benjamin offer on the mechanised production of art? Were the Frankfurt School ‘elitist’ in their approach to popular culture?

What did Priestley mean by ‘Admass’ and did this differ from other left wing critiques?

To what extent can jazz be seen as a countercultural force within mass culture?

How has the internet changed popular culture? How have historians approached the study of popular culture?

Key Readings

Stuart Hall, ‘Notes on Deconstructing the Popular’, in Raphael Samuel ed, People’s History and Socialist Theory (1981), pp. 227-41

Walter Benjamin, ‘The work of Art in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ (1936), in Hannah Arrendt (ed.), Illuminations (London, 1999 edn), pp. 211-44

J.B. Priestley’ ‘Saturday Night in Dallas’ from Jaquetta Hawkes and Priestley, Journey Down a Rainbow (London, Heinemann, 1955), pp.123-40.

George McKay, Circular Breathing: The Cultural Politics of Jazz in Britain (Durham, NC, Duke UP, 2005), pp. 3-44

George Lipsitz, ‘The Historical Study of Popular Culture’, in Gary Burns (ed), A Companion to Popular Culture (Chichester, Wiley, 2016), pp. 13-30 [ebook]

Further Reading

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, ‘The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception’, in Dialectic of Enlightenment (Orig., 1944, 2002 edn.)

Bounds, Philip, ‘From Folk to Jazz: Eric Hobsbawm, British Communism and Cultural Studies’, Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory, 40, 4 (2012), 575-93.

Philip Bounds (ed), British Marxism and Cultural Studies: Essays on a Living Tradition (Abingdon, Routledge, 2016)

Gary Burns (ed.) A Companion to Popular Culture (2016) [ebook]

Campbell, Davis and McKay (eds), Issues in Americanisation and Culture (Edinburgh UP, 2005)

Timothy Dale and Joseph Foy, Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture (Lexington Kentucky, 2010) [ebook]

Victoria de Grazia, Irresistable Empire: America's advance through twentieth-century Europe (London, Belknap, 2006)

Carol V. Hamilton, All that Jazz again: Adorno's Sociology of Music’, Popular Music and Society, 15:3, (1991), pp. 31-40

Eric Hobsbawm, The Jazz Scene (London: Faber, 1989 edn.)

William P. Nye ‘Theodor Adorno on Jazz: A critique of critical theory’, Popular Music and Society, 12:4 (1988), pp. 69-73.

Richard Pells, Modernist America: Art, Music, Movies and the Globalization of American Culture (New Haven, Yale, 2012)

Karl Spraklen, Digital Leisure, the Internet and Popular Culture; Communities and Identities in a Digital Age (Basingtsoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) [ebook]

John Storey (ed.) The Making of English Popular Culture (Abingdon, Routledge, 2016) [ebook]

D. Waskul and P. Vannini (eds) Popular Culture as Everyday Life (Abingdon, Routledge, 2016) [ebook]