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Media, Language and Popular Culture


Admission requirements

Required course(s):



What does it mean to live in our current media(ted) world? In this course we will explore this question through the lens of language and popular culture in everyday life. Taking aboard Hall’s notion of language, as “the medium for the production the production of meaning [that] is both an ordered or ‘structured’ system and a means of ‘expression’”, we will analyze language as a social practice – that is, as “a structure of variant possibilities, the arrangement of elements in a signifying chain, as a practice not ‘expressing’ the world (that is, reflecting it in words) but articulating it, articulated upon it” (1980: 17). The rise of social media and online infrastructures has opened up endless possibilities, accompanied by new limitations, for articulating (upon) the world. This process will be considered by critically exploring a wide range of popular culture registers (from TikTok to hip hop, and from TV reality shows to ‘the news’), drawing on concepts from several fields and disciplines, including anthropology, communications, critical and cultural theories, sociology, and media studies. In doing so, we will develop a critical understanding of (newer and older) ideological power configurations buttressing notions of ‘mainstream’, ‘alternative’ and ‘high culture’ and how these relate to popular practices and social media representations (e.g. ‘urban’, ‘street’ and also, ‘#okboomer.’
At the end of the course, students may choose between: a. writing a final essay, based on a thorough study of state-of-the-art literature at the nexus of language, media, popular culture; or b. handing in a (creative) research portfolio based upon a critical empirical study of a popular culture artefact/phenomenon in light of theories that will pass review during the course.

Course Objectives

  • Become knowledgeable of the intersections between language, (digital and social) media and popular culture in everyday life: how language – as a social practice – echo and contributes to contemporary power configurations: how media; how ideologies shape popular culture and vice versa; and how popular culture continuously unfolds and becomes in everyday media(ted) life.

  • Gain insight into the trans-disciplinary academic field of popular-culture studies: And develop a critical understanding of the social, historical and cultural contexts of the production and interpretation of popular culture texts.

  • Learn skills to identify, analyze and study ways in which popular culture makings and practices relate to the images of and debates on wider socio-political issues, including racism, poverty and gender inequalities.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2021-2022 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction


Assessment Method

20% in-class participation
20% presentation
60% final essay or portfolio

Reading list



Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Sanne Rotmeijer MA,