Key Concepts in Cultural Theory

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
School of Arts

Module overview

This half-unit introduces students from across the School of Arts to key texts of post-colonial theory that deal with aesthetics and the senses. The team-taught module mixes different disciplinary approaches from Music, History of Art and Archaeology, and Media to engage key concepts in post-colonial studies. With a focus on close reading, the module guides students through advanced texts that they will encounter across disciplines in their later years of study, equipping them with the analytical tools to apply key ideas to regional case studies. Drawing from faculty expertise, the module will emphasize reading the texts from the perspective of the traditions covered in regional modules.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this course a student should be able to:

  • demonstrate a broad awareness of major paradigms in cultural theory.
  • approach key theoretical texts with confidence.
  • engage in close critical reading.
  • apply the terminology and methods of cultural theory to specific case studies from Asia and Africa.
  • assess critically the existing literature and approaches to music and art in Asia and Africa


One 2 hour lecture per week

Scope and syllabus

  1. Space and place
  2. Nation
  3. Representation and Power
  4. Gender: the Body
  5. Class
  6. Race
  7. The Culture Industries
  8. Post-colonialism
  9. The Media
  10. Globalization

Method of assessment

  • One 2,000 word essay on a selected topic (worth 70%)
  • One 20-minute group radio programme (worth 30%)

Suggested reading

  • Anderson, Benedict (1983) Imagine Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism. New York: Verso.
  • Appadurai, Arjun (1990) "Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy." Theory, Culture and Society 7: 295-310.
  • Benjamin, Walter (1936) "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," In Illuminations, Ed. Hannah Arendt. New York: Schocken, 217-51.
  • Fanon, Franz (1952) Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove.
  • Foucault, Michel (1977) Discipline and Punish: Birth of the Prison. London: Penguin, pp. 195-228.
  • McLuhan (1964) "The Medium is the Message," Understanding Media: the Extension of Man. New York: Signet pp. 23-35.
  • Mohanty, Chandra (1984) "Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses." oundary 2. 12-3-13.1: 333-358.
  • Said, Edward (1978) Orientalism. New York: Pantheon.
  • Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty (1983) "Can the Subaltern Speak?" In Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules