21G.035 | Fall 2003 | Undergraduate, Graduate

Topics in Culture and Globalization


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Course Description

The concept of globalization fosters the understanding of the interconnectedness of cultures and societies geographically wide apart. Subject scans existing debates over globalization throughout the world. Explores how globalization impacts everyday life in the First and Third World; how globalization leads to a common cosmopolitan culture; the emergence of a global youth culture; and religious, social, and political movements that challenge globalization. Materials examined include pop music, advertisements, ethnographic films, and journalistic accounts.


Topics for Fall 2003 include precursors to globalization, world hip-hop, media power, and consumer activism. Students will also have the opportunity to explore projects of their own design.

Course Requirements

Discussion, Attendance 15%  
Essay 1 (3 pages) - Cultural Power 10% Week 3
Essay 2 (5 pages) - Global Hip-Hop 15% Week 8<
Essay 3 (5 pages) - Media Worlds 15% Week 1
Individual Presentations 15% Weeks 10-13
Final Paper (6-8 pages) 25% ast Class


There will be no final exam.

Graduate students are required to do extra work as determined by the instructor. Extra work will usually take the form of extra reading and writing.

Course Dynamics

The course meets once a week and is structured by reading, films, lectures, discussions, and student presentations. In general, class will begin with lecture, then move to films, discussions, and presentations.

Course Requirements


There will be four significant writing assignments: Two 5-page essays (due in Weeks 5 and 9), and a 7-8 page final project due on the last day of class. You will have a choice of essay topics, or with the approval of the instructor, they may be developed from the issues raised in the weekly discussions. I am happy to look at preliminary drafts of papers, but except for unusual circumstances, I do not accept rewrites. I would also encourage people to make use of the Writing Center as it is an excellent resource.


Papers will be graded according to three criteria:

  • Argument Is this thesis clearly stated? Do the steps of the argument make sense and lead logically to the conclusion?
  • Evidence How well does the essay use the evidence available from the class materials (readings, lectures, films)? Are there contradictory examples that should be discussed to eliminate doubts? How well are the examples used to support the argument?
  • Style How well is the paper written? Has it been carefully proofread? Are there clever turns of phrase, interesting transitions, a catchy opening and conclusion? Does the paper length match the assignment?

Short Weekly Assignments

Depending on how the class is progressing, I reserve the right to assign short weekly assignments, such as brief writing exercises, or to ask certain students to prepare discussion questions, or to lead discussion of the readings.

Attendance and Class Participation

Because this class meets only once a week, your attendance is required every single class period. Barring sickness or unavoidable family emergencies, I expect you in class. If you are going to miss class, I would like an email explanation prior to class. More than two (2) unexcused absence will result in a reduction of your final grade. I do not give warnings in the event that you are in danger of such a penalty. That said, if emergencies or health situations arise, please let me know, if possible beforehand, and in most situations that will count as an excuse. Your health, and your commitments to family, should take priority over coursework.

Student Presentations

I would also stress that student presentations form a key component of the course. Students will be asked to make short presentations, either formally or as part of discussion, throughout the term as a way of delving into the readings, films, and lectures. I encourage you to use such opportunities to introduce the class as a whole to examples of culture and globalization that may not be directly treated in the reading assignments or lectures.

With a topic like “Culture and Globalization,” there is clearly no way for a one-semester class to be comprehensive, nor give a full overview of the issues involved. Instead, we will focus on developing the analytical tools necessary to unravel some of the complex economic, political and cultural changes of the contemporary world with respect to globalization. In order to accomplish this, the course will rely to a large extent on the work of you, the students, to bring concrete, up-to-date examples which we can use to assess the theoretical readings and reconsider their conclusions in light of our examples.

Special Class Meetings

Once or twice during the term, I may try to schedule special events related to the course. If these events fall outside of the regular class meeting times, they will be recommended, but optional. If your schedule precludes you from attending, I will design alternative assignments on a case-by-case basis.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2003
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Presentation Assignments
Written Assignments