Pop Culture in World History: Additional Resources

Pop Culture


Popular Culture, Geopolitics, & Identity, by Jason Dittmer – clear, concise summary of theoretical background for pop culture analysis, plus five very helpful case studies. Downside: contains very little about social media.

Popular Culture: Global Intercultural Perspectives, by Ann Brooks – explores the connection between pop culture and identity, including a lot of conversation about intercultural objects, lots of short case studies, references to many types of pop culture, plenty of focus on social media. Downside: contains a ton of references to scholarly discussions and publications, which can get confusing for a non-academic.

Popular culture and New Media: The Politics of Circulation, by David Beer – short, but dense look at the connection between pop culture and new media, especially as regards transmission and digital creation of cultural objects. Downside: the book spends a lot of time referencing theories of pop culture analysis. I’d only recommend it if you really want to wade more into that topic and you plan to do a lot of background googling as you read.

Mix It Up: Pop Culture, Mass Media, and Society, by David Grazian – I haven’t read this one. It was referenced in a number of other people’s work, with specific comments about its combo of readability and academic depth, so I’m adding it to the list.


Pop Culture Association – This site doesn’t contain any direct teaching resources, but the program guides for their conferences are good resources to learn the names of experts on various topics:

Journal of Popular Culture – This is the official journal of the Pop Culture Association.

Cultural Politics: Resources for Critical Analysis – This is a rich site curated by T.V. Reed, a professor at Washington State University. Though the majority of its content is US-focused, it also has material relevant to transnational interactions.

Pew Research Center: Internet, Science and Tech – This site provides ongoing information about how different Americans use technology, including some very helpful breakdowns by different demographic characteristics.

Cultural Anthropology (culanth.org) – Our speaker Ahmed Kanna recommended this journal as a resource on Middle East topics.

Pop Matters – This independent website says of itself, “Our scope is broadly cast on all things pop culture and we are the largest site that bridges academic and popular writing in the world. We provide intelligent reviews, engaging interviews, and in-depth essays on most cultural products and expressions in areas such as music, television, films, books, video games, sports, theatre, the visual arts, travel, and the Internet.”

Norient - This site is dedicated to exploration and discussion of pop culture all over the world. Topics are wide-ranging and posts vary in both form and academic emphasis.

Articles & Videos:

George Ritzer’s “McDonaldization of Society

Generation Like” from Frontline – This documentary was recommended by one of our participants and does a great job of exploring teens’ interactions with social media.

Online, some are more equal than others” from The Guardian

Artificial Intelligence’s White Guy Problem” from the NY Times


Regional or Multi-regional Resources


Popular Culture Co-production and Collaborations in East and Southeast Asia, Nissim Otmazgin and Eyal Ben Ari, eds. – This is a pretty specialized, academic collection, but I found some of the articles fascinating and they helped me understand a number of region-wide connections and mutual influences across Asia.

Age of Irreverence, by Christopher Rea – As I mentioned to some of you, I loved using humor to teach about people’s views. This book focuses on five different kinds of humor in China from the 1890s to the 1930s. You can hear one of many interviews with the author here.

Latin American Pop Culture: An Introduction, William Beezley and Linda Curcio-Nagy, eds. – The introduction to this book was pre-reading for the ORIAS summer institute, but the whole book is worth a look.

Orientalism, by Edward Said – One of our presenters mentioned this well-known text. For some illustrative orientalist pop culture images from various time, see Reclaiming Identity: Dismantling Arab Stereotypes.

The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography, by Lewis and Wigen – One of our speakers recommended this book, which book examines the basic geographical divisions that help define our sense of where and who we are. It might be a useful complement to our conversations about connections between pop culture and identity.


JAI2 – This is Fred Schodt’s website and includes links to a number of his publications related to Japanese pop culture.

Homegrown – This site is actually produced by a “creative agency” so it contains interesting articles about pop culture in India, but it is actually engaged in advertisement. Before reading articles, I recommend checking out the About Us and Partner With Us pages.

Being Indian – I can’t deconstruct the connection between content and marketing here. Being Indian is both a website and a YouTube channel, featuring video and articles about south Asia. But Being Indian is owned (and many of its videos are produced) by Culture Machine, a South Asian company that develops brands and viral videos. You can read about Sameer Pitwalla, the company’s founder, here.

Inside Islam – This blog is no longer active, but many of the posts might still be useful, especially if you’re looking for examples of Muslim-American pop culture.

FluentU – This Spanish language and culture blog has content of particular interest to language teachers, but the link will take you directly to a posting about using telenovelas to learn Spanish. Maybe useful for some interdisciplinary collaboration?

Latin Times – This site was recommended by one of our speakers, Maria Ruiz, to help you keep up with pop culture in the Latin world.

SalaamPax and Riverbend blogs – These two blogs, the first by a man and the second by a woman, chronicle the US war in Iraq from the point of view of two individual Iraqis. Since entries are dated and often reference major news stories, they are good fodder for conversations about representation of the Other in a variety of media. Also, since one is hosted by Wordpress and the other by Blogspot, they present an opportunity to talk about kinds of spaces in which pop culture can emerge and thrive.

MERIP – The Middle East Research and Information Project was recommended by one of our presenters as a source of nuanced information about the Middle East.

Jadaliyya – This site, maintained by the Arab Studies Institute, contains a multilingual mix of stories on a wide variety of topics in the Middle East. It is largely maintained by volunteers. This New York Times article about the site provides some fairly balanced background information.

Individual Links:

“K-poparazzi” from Radiolab – This Radiolab story is a fun introduction to K-Pop for the completely uninitiated.

How Korea is Conquering Myanmar, One Soap Opera at a Time” from The Diplomat – This article is a great example of pop culture as soft power. The larger site contains some other interesting articles as well.

Blackness, Race, and Language Politics in Japanese Hiphop,” by Dawn-Elissa Fischer – Dawn-Elissa Fischer is a professor at SFSU. Her work led me to the Hiphop Archive website, a rough cut of a film she made, called Nihon Style”, and the topically related “Rising From the Tokyo” by Vice.

“India on a Plate” – This series of articles from BBC focuses on food as pop culture in India and the Indian diaspora.

“In Mexico, Narco Films vs. Narco Reality” from the NY Times – A teacher at the summer institute sent this along right after our program. It goes perfectly with the last presentation.

“David E. Kelley and Jonathan Shapiro Discuss "Pop Culture and the Perception of Justice" from the American Bar Association

Magnificent Century –This entire Suleiman-era Turkish drama is posted on YouTube (legally?). There is an American Historical Association blog post about it and a pretty fascinating article in Al-Monitor, as well.

From Peter to Putin: The Enduring Myth of Saint Petersburg from Hemispheres at UT Austin – Hemispheres, like ORIAS, does outreach to teachers on behalf of research institutes. This unit, which includes an online lecture, focuses on St. Petersburg as it was portrayed in Russian arts.

“But Is It Art? A look at Pop Culture in South African Music” from Pop Matters – This short article quickly introduces a number of connections between South African pop music and South African social and historical developments. If you were teaching the history of South Africa, it would provide a lot of fodder for student research and discussion.

“Are eSports the Future of Entertainment?” – This panel discussion, hosted by ASU’s Future Tense features a variety of scholars exploring the future role of gaming as popular culture.

“China’s E-Sports Paradox” from Slate – This article briefly outlines the popularity of e-sports in China and discusses conflicting attitudes about the phenomenon in China (as there are here).

“Video games industry in China and cross cultural gaming” from INA Global (Institut National de l’audiovisuel) – This article describes the extent of cross-cultural gaming in China and discusses political, technological, and social reasons for this trend.

Nollywood Confidential: the unlikely rise of Nigerian video film,” by John C. McCall – This article chronicles the rise of the Nigerian film industry which, in terms of numbers of films produced, is the second-largest film sub-industry in the world (after Bollywood). If you teach about the decolonization of West Africa and the post-colonial period, you might find the Nollywood adaptation of Half of a Yellow Sun a useful resource. You can find other interesting scholarly papers by the same author, here.

“Lights, camera, Africa!” from The Economist – This article also outlines the rise of the Nigerian film industry.

“For young Soviets, the Beatles were a first, mutinous rip in the iron curtain” from The Guardian – This discussion of Leslie Woodhead’s How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin reinforces the summer institute presentation about Russian pop culture. There is also a documentary based on the book.

Japanese Acrobats filmed by Edison in 1904 – As noted by our presenter, here is Edison’s footage of Risley’s Imperial Japanese Troupe.

“Imagined Youths” from MERIP – This article, by Ted Swedenburg, was recommended by one of our speakers as a resource to help develop your understanding of cultural and political diversity across the Middle East.