This course examines the fraught intersection of politics and popular culture. In this class, we ask: What is popular culture? How does it differ from other cultural expressions? How does popular culture connect to other aspects of social, economic and political experience? What differences, if any, are there between "high" and "low" culture? Is consuming pop culture products a form of political action? How do explicit political themes both enrich and detract from consumption? What economic imperatives drive popular culture production? What are the relationships between commerce, politics, and art? How does popular culture act as a vehicle for the appropriation or exploitation of other cultures? Particular attention will be paid to: the racialized construction of masculinity and femininity in popular culture; the appropriation of racial and gender identities; the role of global capitalism and the market in the production of popular culture. This course is reading-, writing-, and theory-intensive.