Great texts on pop culture?
December 12, 2009 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend a good text on pop culture history/studies?

I'd love to take a college course on the subject, but I'm not currently enrolled anywhere. I'm also impatient and I want to get right on it. I did a brief search for any similar questions on AskMeFi and didn't find anything. Nor do I check this site daily, so if it's been asked before then I've missed it and I apologize. Your help will be greatly appreciated.
posted by mediocritease to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If you want a basic primer on the academic discipline of cultural studies, this anthology is quite thorough. The paperback is about a third the price, btw.
If you're looking for something less jargon-y and generally more fun and accessible, Roland Barthes' Mythologies is excellent. Even though it focuses on French 60s popular culture, a lot of what he says remains applicable for a contemporary audience.
posted by joechip at 3:26 PM on December 12, 2009

Last Night A DJ Saved My Life which is not scholarly or anything but is very informative and a very fun read.
posted by jason's_planet at 3:43 PM on December 12, 2009

Empire of Dirt: The Aesthetics and Rituals of British Indie Music by Wendy Fonarow

It sounds like a joke, but this is a straight-faced anthropological study of the British Indie Music Scene by an anthropologist from the University of California Los Angeles.
Author Wendy Fonarow, a scholar with years of experience in the various sectors of the indie music scene, examines the indie music "gig" as a ritual in which all participants are actively involved. This ritual allows participants to play with cultural norms regarding appropriate behavior, especially in the domains of sex and creativity. Her investigation uncovers the motivations of audience members when they first enter the community and how their positions change over time so that the gig functions for most members as a rite of passage. "Empire of Dirt" sheds new light on music, gender roles, emotion, subjectivity, embodiment, and authenticity.
posted by memebake at 3:45 PM on December 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

You might enjoy Chuck Klosterman's "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs" which is a biting look at pop culture. I enjoyed it but can't speak for his newer works.
posted by hepta at 4:53 PM on December 12, 2009

I took a class on Popular Culture and Consumerism in college. One book I remember was
Confidence Men and Painted Ladies

If you're interested in music history, I recommend Our Band Could Be Your Life.

If you haven't read Fast Food Nation, that has a great history of fast food and the processed food industry in general.
posted by radioamy at 5:16 PM on December 12, 2009

I think Simon Frith's Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music is a worthwhile read on popular music specifically.
posted by umbĂș at 8:10 PM on December 12, 2009

Here you go.
posted by ndicecco at 5:16 AM on December 13, 2009

If you want one that is used in college courses:
With Amusement for All
posted by Knowyournuts at 10:57 AM on December 14, 2009

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