ANG1005 Reading Popular Culture
Fall 2017


This course will introduce students to the elusive concept of ‘Popular Culture’ and its importance for our contemporary society and the way it defines qualitatively works of literature and other media (the so- called ‘high’ and ‘low’ labels). This concept has been defined in various ways over time, starting from the turn of the nineteenth century and the popularity of Gothic and detective novels. In the twentieth century, the genre exploded with the advent of television, comics, and cinema. Students will read a range of texts (a short story, novels, comics, sitcoms, tv episodes, and films) that reflect this evolution and consider its current value in a critical framework that includes cultural studies, gender studies, and adaptation theory. The course will also consider the invasion of technology in mainstream works, and the parodic elements inherent in popular culture. Finally, all the works considered in this course will demonstrate how popular culture constantly engages with contemporary historical and political issues. [Students should note that some of the works under consideration in this class contain explicit scenes of violence and sexuality.]


  • Midterm exam: 45% (6 November 2017)
  • Final exam: 45% (11 December 2017)
  • Participation: 10%


  • Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Arthur Conan Doyle, “A Scandal in Bohemia” (available online)
  • Michael Cunningham, The Hours
  • Francis Desharnais, Arts Wars
  • Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen
  • Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

[Students can purchase the books at the university bookstore, with the exception of Watchmen. Students can also purchase e-version of the books.]


  • Monday 18 September: Introduction / Viewing: The Matrix 
  • Monday 25 September: Viewing: Sherlock (2.1) /  Conan Doyle’s “A Scandal in Bohemia” & The Matrix
  • Monday 2 October: Viewing: The X-Files (Episode 5.5) / Shelley’s Frankenstein
  • Monday 9 October: Thanksgiving
  • Monday 16 October: Class cancelled (due to sickness)
  • Monday 23 October: Reading Week
  • Monday 30 October: Viewing: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog / Moore and Gibbons’ Watchmen
  • Monday 6 November: Midterm Exam
  • Monday 13 November: Desharnais’ Arts Wars (author’s visit)
  • Monday 20 November: Viewing: Seinfeld (Episodes 4.11 and 4.16) / Palahniuk’s Fight Club 
  • Monday 27 November: Class cancelled
  • Monday 4 December: Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale / Cunningham’s The Hours 
  • Monday 11 December: Final Exam

Plagiarism Policy:

Plagiarism – the stealing or “borrowing” of another person’s written work and passing it off as one’s own – is a very serious academic offence. Plagiarism occurs when:

  • the work submitted was done, in whole or in part, by an individual other than the one submitting or presenting the work;
  • an entire work (e.g., an essay), is copied from another source, or parts of the work are taken from another source without explicit reference to the author;
  • an essay copies a sentence or paragraph of another work with minor variations.

Plagiarism occurs not only when direct quotations are taken from a source without explicit acknowledgement, but also when original ideas from the source are not acknowledged. A bibliography or “works cited” is insufficient to establish which portions of the student’s work are taken from external sources; formal modes of citation (i.e., page numbers and the author’s name in parenthetical references) must be used for this purpose. Professors are required to report all cases of plagiarism to the Dean. The minimal disciplinary measure for cases of plagiarism is an F on the assignment, essay, or exam. Further measures can include an F in the course, suspension from the Faculty, and even the requirement to withdraw from the University. If you are unclear on the definition of plagiarism or you are unsure about how to avoid it, please do not hesitate to ask me. Ignorance is not a valid defense.

This content has been updated on December 11, 2017 at 14 h 47 min.