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Another FaCTS Mellon Project

Popular Culture as an Interdisciplinary Endeavor

by Dr. Steven J. Salm

This project revises an existing, cross-listed course within the Department of History (HIST) and African American and Diaspora Studies (AADS). The History of Popular Culture in Africa traces the development of popular culture genres and shows how they both reflected and acted upon their contemporary political, economic, and social environments. History is, by its very nature, an interdisciplinary activity, existing in both the Social Sciences and Humanities. African studies and popular culture, even more so, demand the integration of knowledge and techniques from multiple disciplines to analyze and understand complex issues. The study of popular culture requires innovative interdisciplinary methods that approach teaching and learning from within and across various disciplines, actively engage students in course materials, and create new outlets for creative and critical thinking. In Africa, the production of popular culture is a uniquely urban phenomenon that has synthesized cultural elements from the African continent, Europe, the United States, the Caribbean, and Brazil. A study of popular culture provides insightful views into the core values of generations of Africans from a time when the first African American minstrel groups traveled to South Africa to the ubiquitous and diverse African Hip Hop cultures of today. An important goal in teaching the interdisciplinarity of poplar culture is not just to impart the knowledge of other societies but also to get students to make inquiries from a variety of perspectives. What better way to accomplish this than to engage them in a discussion of popular culture forms and the global political, social, and economic structures infused into their products and processes? This course will explore how different disciplines engage in inquiry, reflect on the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge, and incorporate interdisciplinary perspectives and cultural diversity into understanding and analysis.

Start date: Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Finish date: Tuesday, March 31, 2015