20 Credits SPRING

Aims/Description: Critiques of consumer cultures are as old as capitalism itself. This module takes the long view, starting in the eighteenth century and tracing our conflicted identities as modern consumers into the present day. Especially applying German cultural theory to European cultural history, we shall ask what is meant by economic and social liberalism, and whether even culture owes a debt to consumer society. Consumerism can entail complicity in exploitative modes of production (causing poverty and displacement, and profiting from serfdom and slavery). It has been both celebrated and satirised for enabling hedonism and individual bad taste (or kitsch). And consumption has been nationalist, yet also cosmopolitan; today, it threatens our shared environment. Theory, the visual arts, and literature have all been critical of capitalism - but ironically, they can themselves be packaged as consumer goods. Examining a wide range of primary texts (including film and caricature) and critical reflections, you will translate and write a commentary on a historical source, and submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

Staff Contact: WILLIAMS SEAN M
Teaching Methods: Lectures, Independent Study
Assessment: Course work

Information on the department responsible for this unit (Languages and Cultures):

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Teaching methods and assessment displayed on this page are indicative for 2021-22. Students will be informed by the academic department of any changes made necessary by the ongoing pandemic.

Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK