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Library Research Guides

Popular Culture: Getting Started

Guide to Popular Culture Resources at the University of Michigan.

What's Pop and What's Not?

Marilyn Monroe, by Andy Warhol 1964

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Research on popular culture can be challenging because of the interdisciplinary nature of the subject. This guide defines popular culture as mass-produced materials that are representative of aspects of mainstream culture, including movies, music, television shows, literature, comic books and video games.


Welcome to the Popular Culture at MLibrary guide! Here you will find help identifying and locating the impressive array of resources available at the University of Michigan pertaining to popular culture scholarship and research. This guide is organized by both information type (i.e. articles, books, etc) and by media type under the appropriate tab.


This information was researched and adapted to this guide by University Library Associate for Learning and Teaching, Maria Seiferle-Valencia.

Did You Know?

The Askwith Media Library 25,000 titles that you can check out? Learn more here.


You can play games with friends at the Computer Video Game Archive on North Campus? Check it out!


The Aliens have landed! UM's Special Collections Library recently acquired an archive from famed sci-fi writer Orson Welles! Read about it here.

Popular Culture Classes at UMich

Want to learn more about popular culture? Looking for a fun class? Check out this short list of some recent popular culture offerings at the University of Michigan! As you can see, you can find popular culture classes across a wide variety of departments and disciplines.


AMCULT 209 – History of American Popular Music

• America has never been without popular music, a form that expresses our deepest collective desires and our most transparent sentiments. This course traces the history of American Popular Music from its earliest days through contemporary genres. Students listen to, watch, and analyze popular music in and from its context, styles, and forms.

AMCULT 411 – Rednecks, Queers and Country Music

• Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music --- Queer identity is associated with urban, bourgeois, coastal lifestyles. Country music is linked to heterosexual white, rural, working-class, Southern, and Midwestern cultures and often to "redneck" bigotry. How has music that many people perceive as homophobic and racist become a medium for multicultural queer social and sexual exchange?

COMM 371 – Media, Culture, and Society

• This course explores the historical rise of mass media and the impact on modern society and culture. It considers the dynamic impact of radio and television broadcasting on the rise of urban industrial mass society and popular commercial culture through music, print and electronic advertising, consumerism, and emergence of affluent society. The course also studies modern media institutions, politics, and forms and processes of social change and identity formation, such as class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexuality


EDUC 222 – Video Games and Learning

• Why are video games fun? The answer isn’t as obvious as you might think. Good games draw you in, teach you how to succeed, and keep you engaged with a “just right” level of challenge. Most importantly, players *learn* while playing a well-designed game. Why isn’t school like that? This class takes a hard look at video games, a hard look at education, and considers ways that each can be improved to maximize learning.


HISTART 334 – Women in the Visual Arts: Images and Image-Makers

• The course studies women as both image-makers and role-players in the visual arts, examining their histories from the mid-18th to the beginning of the 20th century. It offers an introduction to how meanings about women and gender are produced through visual representation and how gender structures critical writing on art.


SAC 245 – Anime

• In this course, we examine the history of Japanese animation and its relationship to the social, political, and economic transformations of the nation. Anime's roots are in 1930s children's films promoting the colonization of Asia, followed by propaganda films from World War II.


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