Popular Culture and English Language Education

Perspectives  from Cultural Studies and Critical Literacies

Angel Lim, Hong Kong University

What is popular culture?  Very difficult to define but is related to consumption power. We live in a world which is immersed in popular culture and it is a major source of pleasure and meaning for many people, especially young people [god how old do I feel waiting that!].

Funky Learning Commons at HK Institute of Education

Contradictions are inherent in pop culture. Contradiction 1: It is both ordinary and extraordinary. It takes everyday life and transforms it. Still contains ‘structures of feeling’ about certain cultures which mean people can identify with and feel that it speaks to them. Real life consequences of identifying with popular culture and young people are very adept at using popular culture to represent own feelings. Provides an imaginary space for people to create own meanings and it is all the more powerful because of this contraction between real and imaginary.

Contradiction 2: Popular cultures ridicule the elite yet at the same time reinforce ideologies of the elite eg marrying into wealthy family for women. Manga comics can be very sexist.

Contradiction 3: Don’t seem to vary narratives very much, just repurposing of traditional ideas.

Contradiction 4: Seems that it is easy to engage with popular culture , yet it derives from ingrained culture sensitivity

There was  loads more but sadly she ran out of time and didn’t finish her presentation. She did have 118 slides for a 35 minute session.

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