“The End of Men”: Cultural Studies and Apocalypse
This course will introduce students to the field of cultural studies and its methods for analyzing the culture that surrounds us and in which we participate. We will together cull cultural studies methods from various theoretical and analytical readings and then use the methods we have culled to interpret a series of cultural productions (films, novels, web-media, music) that treat “the end of men,” (post)apocalypse, and/or societies engaged in self-destruction. The course objective is to learn how to interpret the array of dystopian representations that surround us and to come to an understanding of such representations as meaningful expressions of ongoing political and social debates and struggles about what counts as justice, equality, and, not least, freedom in a rapidly changing world. The use of the term “men” in the course title is deliberate; of special concern are the gender and racial politics that sustain cultures of human destruction that are envisioned in the dystopic cultural texts we will engage. Assigned readings for the course are both written and visual. Students should anticipate a series of short writing projects over the course of the quarter and at least one longer course papers.