Athabasca University’s newest course, CLST 201: Cultural Studies and Everyday Life, is about culture and how it affects us (and vice versa, because we can shift culture and it can shift us). Course designer and professor Dr. Patricia Hughes-Fuller says of CLST 201: ?[My] intention . . . was to introduce students to the field of cultural studies by having them explore (largely via experience-based learning) the extent to which, in our everyday lives, we are immersed in culture.? CLST 201 is interesting, insightful, and an amazing learning experience.
CLST 201 comprises six units. The first, ?Culture is Ordinary,? ?introduces students to the meanings of the terms ?popular? and ?culture? and explains why studying the cultural modalities of everyday life is an academically relevant activity,? says Dr. Hughes-Fuller. Students will learn how culture and its expectations change over time, how society can shape and define culture, and how ?gender, ethnicity, and class ?embody? us in ways that are cultural rather than natural.?
?Domestic Cultures? is CLST 201’s second unit. This unit, says Dr. Hughes-Fuller, focusses on ?how we experience culture in that seemingly most private of living spaces, our homes.? This involves evaluating our current translation of domestic roles in the light of cultural change.
Unit Three, ?Workplace Cultures,? ?looks more closely at the cultural implications of alterations to the traditional ways that waged or salaried work has been organized and conducted,? notes Dr. Hughes-Fuller. Additionally, she continues, this unit ?explores how the changing face of the workplace is reflected in popular culture.?
CLST 201’s fourth unit, ?Recreational Cultures,? describes how the concepts of ?recreation? and ?play? have changed over time. Dr. Hughes-Fuller also outlines how ?various scholars have analyzed the function(s) these activities have performed in our society.? While the unIt’s ?focus is primarily on the cultural significance of sports and games,? Dr. Hughes- Fuller notes that the course will ? also consider the importance of popular music to the culture(s) of everyday life.?
Unit Five, ?Culture and Community,? explores the interrelatedness of culture and community. Concepts covered in this unit include the following, according to Dr. Hughes-Fuller: ?what is a community, how do our communities influence our identities, in what ways do communities function to both include and exclude, and how and why have communities changed over time??
CLST 201’s sixth and final unit, ?Culture, Experience, Identity,? turns students? thoughts to the cultural political scheme with intriguing questions exploring the role of time and change. Is there an aspect of continuity over time, or is change the mainstay?
Student evaluation in CLST 201 is determined through four assignments. The first and third assignments, worth 25 per cent each, are essay entries in a learning journal that should outline details of the student’s learning experience in CLST 201. The second assignment involves a library tutorial with an associated bibliography (worth 15 per cent of the final grade); and the fourth, and final, assignment is a ?critical essay that should synthesize ideas drawn from the course materials as well as incorporating some additional library research specific to [the] selected topic,? explains Dr. Hughes-Fuller.
CLST 201 course author Dr. Patricia Hughes-Fuller holds an M.Ed. in Intercultural Adult Education and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature. In addition to CLST 201, she teaches several other AU courses.
For more information, visit the CLST 201 course page.