Media in Cultural Context: Popular Readerships

Black display shelves with a variety of comic books, each shelf adorned with a comic book symbol on top.

Display shelves at the comic book store Atomics Comics in San Antonio, Texas. Fandom is one of the course's topics, and students were required to visit a comic book store out of class and come to class prepared to discuss their experience. (Image courtesy of Clay Hackett.)


MIT Course Number

21L.715 / WGS.493 / CMS.871

As Taught In

Fall 2007



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

What is the history of popular reading in the Western world? How does widespread access to print relate to distinctions between highbrow and lowbrow culture, between good taste and bad judgment, and between men and women readers? This course will introduce students to the broad history of popular reading and to controversies about taste and gender that have characterized its development. Our grounding in historical material will help make sense of our main focus: recent developments in the theory and practice of reading, including fan-fiction, Oprah's book club, comics, hypertext, mass-market romance fiction, mega-chain bookstores, and reader response theory.

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Related Content

Sarah Brouillette. 21L.715 Media in Cultural Context: Popular Readerships. Fall 2007. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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