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Transcript - Liberal Arts Core Module: Consumption

Hi my name is Emily and I'm a third-year Liberal Arts student with a Specialist Interest Pathway in Culture and Identity. More specifically, I'm really interested in popular culture and the impacts that its consumption can have on an audience. So, as I'm sure you can see, consumption was a really interesting module for me.

Consumption is a second-year core module and I remember starting by looking at Marx and commodification and feeling completely out of my element, but it quickly became one of my favourite modules.

So obviously teaching right now is very different with COVID restrictions, but when I studied last year we would work together in a big group at the beginning, just to discuss the key themes of the readings and what we thought about it. Then we'd break out into our smaller discussion groups. Kirsten made sure to vary the groups we worked in every week so we could hear a range of perspectives and talk to different people. Then at the end of class we would discuss altogether again, take that discussion a bit further, and challenge each other’s views.

If found that the module was really well structured. Every week we looked at a different aspect of consumption. So, for example, one week we learnt about grime music and the culture behind that. Another week we actually visited the Pitts River Museum in Oxford. We had some reading on consumption in museums and decolonising museums, which is basically the idea that some of these artefacts maybe shouldn't be on display in the museums but they should be returned to where they were stolen by colonisers. So we looked at some issues quite deeply that I wouldn't have necessarily really thought much about before and it was so interesting to see, to learn about things that I was consuming and how that actually affects everybody.

I think that my favourite assignment in this module would have to be the final research project. So I conducted this just as an essay, but it actually inspired what I'm writing about this year in my dissertation. So it has a bit of a special place in my heart! I'm really interested in K-pop, which is South Korean pop music. I had originally thought that this was completely separate to my academics, but then for this essay I ended up writing about three different music videos and analysing how they appropriated the concept of 'girl power', or in K-pop it's called 'girl crush'. I was then talking about the consumption and the way that these concepts were promoted in a particular way to receive a particular reaction from the audience. In a nutshell, that was kind of the idea that I was writing about.

I really think with this module you can make it as relevant to your life as you want. The thing that I particularly liked about it was being able to analyse the things that I enjoyed as a consumer from the perspective of concepts that we'd looked at in class and coming out with a completely new view on them.