Academic Courses & Programs

The Sociology of Culture

Contemporary Popular Culture
This course combines readings, viewings and discussion of various forms of contemporary culture, (such as popular films and music, design and fashion, architecture, magazines, art, television and digital technologies), from the early 1900s to the present day with a specific focus on the post war, cold war era.  American forms of culture are emphasized, however, they are analyzed alongside four other forms of contemporary culture - Japanese, African, French, Italian, British, South Asian and Middle Eastern.  Topics include avant-garde, popular and mass culture; high and low aesthetics; stereotypes; cultural hierarchy; identity, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity and American concepts of age and class.  The course includes anthropological, historical, geographical and critical perspectives and is taught by a sociologist who also works as an audio and visual producer and writer.  Therefore assignments are both academic and, at times, creative. • Purchase College-State University of New York • Molloy College-Rockville Center, NY • Available as an On-Line Course

Names We Call America, Digging the Roots of Cool
This course focuses on three very different communities, set in three very different places and times: African Americans living in the rural South during the first half of the twentieth century; bohemian Americans living in New York City and San Francisco in the post war, cold war era; and then finally, present day teenagers living in the American middle-west. This will allow us to explore and interrogate a very distinct kind and brand of American culture, American cool. Over the past 100 years, American cool has been a philosophy and a survival strategy, a kind of music, an identity, an artistic movement, a commodity, a marketing campaign and finally, a popular colloquialism. Arguably the literal and figurative foundation of modern American culture, to study the story of American cool is to study the African slave trade and African Americans struggle for individual and collective civil rights; blues, gospel, jazz and rock music; the work and popular image of American artists like Elvis, Jack Kerouac, James Dean and Jackson Pollack; as well as the aesthetic and rhetoric of American fashion, art and advertising. Readings for this course include but are not limited to Major Jackson's Hoops, Daniel Clowes' Ghost World, Amiri Baraka's Blues People, J.D. Salinger's Catcher In the Rye, Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, Lewis MacAdams' Birth of the Cool and Thomas Frank's The Conquest of Cool. • University of DenverState University of New York-College at Potsdam

Rumor of India, The
This course explores the sociology of modern India by looking at it from three distinct perspectives. First, we start by cracking open iconic Western and, even more specifically, American representations of India such as Mother Teresa, the Mahatma Gandhi, transcendental meditation, the Hari Krishna movement and different forms of both South Asian and American yoga. Then, we shift our gaze to India itself to put these stories and images back in their geographical context. Here we will dig deep into modern Indian popular culture with a specific focus on South Asian literature, cinema and television looking historically over four generations. We will also learn the conversational basics of three languages, Hindi, Telugu and Urdu, to understand the dramatic socio-geographical differences in this sub-continent, as well as about the recent television-documentary smash and social phenomena Satyamev Jayate. Finally, we will track down all the places South Asians have migrated and immigrated over the past century zeroing in first on Africa and the Middle East and then later, the UK, Australia, Canada and finally, the United States. This will include a special lecture on the Muslim peace activist Badshah Khan and field trips to the South Asian settlements of New York City where brand new forms of South Asian-American culture are being created, which have only the faintest connection to South Asia itself.  The instructor for this course has lived and done ethnographic field research in South Asia for nearly 20 years; held several American Institute of Indian Studies and Foreign Language Studies fellowships; worked as an advisor to the University of Wisconsin-Madison's College Year In India Program; was on the South Asian Studies faculty for the University of Virginia's Semester At Sea Program in the Spring of 2010; has done extensive graduate level work in South Asian languages and literature. • College of Mount Saint Vincent-Riverdale, NYC

Sociology of Dance, The
Purchase College-State University of New York

Sociology of Culture, The
University of Denver