Advertising and Consumer Culture

FILM 340/3.0


This course examines the role played by advertising in consumer culture from the mid- 20th century to the present. While advertising is often seen as pervasive and homogenizing, our understanding of the relationship between this mode of communication and our experience of our world, and other parts of the world, is often superficial. To redress this elision, this course examines the way in which advertising functions as a dominant trope of our culture, mediating the ways in which we understand not only ‘goods’ and ‘products’ as commodities, but also politics, sexuality, identity and globalization. Drawing on writings from communications, sociology, media studies, cultural studies, global studies, and political science, the courses traces the many tentacles of advertising and the way in which they pervade our everyday life.

It is often easy to “see through” advertisements of other eras and marvel at the simplicity of their message. In order to better understand the role played by advertising in contemporary culture, we will begin by examining what kinds of consumption are important to us, how are own views of the world (what we watch, what we buy, what we eat, how we look, how we vote) are shaped by advertisements, and consider the ways in which we define our own selves through consumption.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand key terms in cultural and media theory as they relate to consumer culture and advertising.
  • Identify the ways pervasive advertising and consumer culture affect social identity.
  • Analyze how advertising creates and affects meaning using approaches from semiotics, media theory and cultural studies.
  • Evaluate one’s own relation to consumer culture.
  • Analyze how consumer culture is represented and subverted in popular culture.


Fall 2022
Course Dates
Delivery Mode


20% - Participation
20% - Site Analysis
20% - Response Essays
40% - Research Essay and Proposal

**Evaluation Subject to change.**

Instructor Information

Professor Ian Robinson (

Textbook and Materials

ASO reserves the right to make changes to the required material list as received by the instructor before the course starts. Please refer to the Campus Bookstore website at to obtain the most up-to-date list of required materials for this course before purchasing them.

All texts and materials for this course will be provided in onQ.

Time Commitment

Students can expect to spend approximately 9 hours a week (108 hours per term) in study/practice and online activity for FILM 340.