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English-language Popular Culture


Admission requirements

Only for students of the BA English language and culture.


Next to the giant popular-culture industry of Hollywood, BBC and HBO TV series, English-language pop music and popular-genre fiction (Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Detectives) have become a staple part of many people’s daily cultural diet across the globe. Since the development of Cultural Studies as an academic discipline, in the secondhalf of the twentieth century, popular culture has also become a serious object of study at universities. This course gives students an introduction to English-language popular-culture studies in the form of a series of lectures presented by staf of the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS). The case studies in the analysis of pop-culture “texts” (in traditional and new media) presented will vary from year to year, but the focus will always be on the production, reception and cultural impact and/or politics of various forms of English-language popular culture.

Course Objectives

  • Knowledge: Students will become knowledgeable of the relationship between various forms of popular culture and society: how forms of mass produced popular culture shape individual, regional and national identities, how ideologies shape forms of popular culture and vice versa, and how older forms of culture are continually re-invented within popular to play an important role in society.

  • Insight: Students will gain insight into the history, research questions and methodologies of the academic discipline of popular-culture studies.

  • Skills: Students will learn skills that will allow them to identify and analyse both intertextual and intercultural relations between forms of popular culture, as well as the ability to identify and study ways in which popular-culture productions play a role in the representation and discussion of wider socio-political issues.


Time and date on which the course is offered or a link to the website. The administration will complete this with the link to the website.

Mode of instruction

  • A series of lectures

  • Self-motivated study of written and audiovisual materials

Course Load

5 ECTS = 140 hours of study

  • 13 hours lectures

  • 6 hours examination

  • 21 hours exam preparation

  • 100 hours of studying the reading/viewing materials

Assessment method

  • A 3-hour written mid-term exam on the material presented during part 1 and 2 of the course; 50% of the final grade.

  • A 3-hour end-of-term exam on the material presented in part 3 and 4 of the course; 50% of the final grade.
    Only when the final average is a grade of 5.49 or lower, will the student have to resit one (or both) of the exams during the resit period.


Students will find the syllabus on Blackboard and the required reading not listed in the reading list of this course description. Blackboard will also be used to communicate with students via the announcements and email.

Reading list

Reading/viewing material for Block 1 (week 1-3):

  • A selection of academic articles on Blackboard.

  • Forsyth (dir.), Local Hero (DVD).

  • Lowthorpe (dir.), Jamaica Inn – BBC TV production (DVD).


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory. Please note that students other than BA English language and culture studies will have to have permission from the coordinator of studies before enrolling.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Student administration Van Eyckhof


The reading for week 1 is:

  • The chapter titled “What is Popular Culture? “ from John Storey’s Cultlural Theory and Popular Culture, available as a PDF on the Blackboard site.

  • The chapter titled: “Commodities and Culture,” from John Fiske’s Understanding Popular Culture, available as a PDF on the Blackboard site.