Daniel M. Clark

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IDS-404: Popular Culture at SNHU

In Brief

I picked "Popular Culture" because I figured we'd get to talk about movies and TV and music. How hard could it be? I've been steeped in pop culture for 30 years. Turns out, I was almost right.


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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

When I first went to college in the early 90s, I heard about courses like “Film Studies,” courses that had a reputation for being super easy, barely an inconvenience. You register for “Film Studies” and get to watch movies all day. How cool would that be?

Obviously, the reputation didn't match the reality. Those students go on to actually make movies, after all.

But when I looked at my required classes and needed to choose an IDS class to finish out my education, I fell into that old trap. I picked “Popular Culture” because I figured we'd get to talk about movies and TV and music. How hard could it be? I've been steeped in pop culture for 30 years.

Turns out, I was almost right.

About IDS-404

I'd like to first share what SNHU itself says about this course in the school catalog.

Explore theoretical approaches to a study of Popular Culture through the interdisciplinary lenses of academic inquiry (historical, humanistic, socio-cultural, and scientific). Analyze the broad spectrum of popular culture as a significant driving force behind the transmission of culture and the impact on shaping the individual. Develop a knowledge base that promotes social responsibility, media literacy, and the critical thinking skills that promote cross-cultural intersections.

SNHU Online Course Catalog

Ignore all of that. Students choose something from pop culture—I chose Captain America—and examine that thing through the lenses of history, social sciences, natural and applied sciences, and humanities. It sounds like a lot, but it isn't.

Truly! The key here is to not overthink things.

The coursework is straightforward. There are discussions pretty much every week, milestones for the final project, and the final project itself. The final project is a paper/PowerPoint combo, but it doesn't have onerous requirements. It's pretty enjoyable, really.

The Professor

This is, I think, the first time I've had a section devoted to the professor. True, I've had something to say about each one along the way, but Dr. Lauren R. O’Connor deserves a special callout. She couldn't be better suited to a course like this.

My topic was going to be the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and my project proposal was pretty good. Dr. O'Conner expertly picked apart the flaw in my plan and suggested I narrow it down to one character. I agreed, chose Captain America, and then she and I through messages had a wonderful back-and-forth about Cap in pop culture over the rest of the term.

I had a lot of great professors, but this is the first time I've specifically said: Prospective students would do well to request Dr. O'Connor.

The Final Project

I mean, sure, you're going to write a 10-page research paper and create an associated PowerPoint presentation complete with speaker notes. It sounds like a lot.

It isn't.

The PowerPoint will use the paper for material, so students need only find suitable imagery. It's another case of the school giving students a chance to brush up on PowerPoint skills.

Advice for Students Registering for IDS-404 at SNHU

  • There's already something in popular culture that you know quite a lot about, isn't there? Chose that thing. We live in an era where nearly everything has been examined half to death, so there shouldn't be much that doesn't have plenty of resources to support your thesis.
  • Have fun. You're likely taking this at or near the end of your time at SNHU, so have some fun with it. A good grade isn't hard to earn here, so it behooves you to take some chances, have some fun, and relax about it.

In the End

IDS-404 isn't about watching movies all day or talking about the music we like, but it's interesting and fun nonetheless. It's also one of the easiest courses I had in my time at SNHU because there was almost no pressure!

Final grade: A (100%)

Not gonna lie, it felt good to end my time at SNHU with a perfect grade.

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Enrolling at Southern New Hampshire University | Daniel M. Clark

Southern New Hampshire University Enrollment

Southern New Hampshire University—SNHU—advertised two important things. One, it has a fantastic writing program. Two, it’s a real school. I wanted a school that’s been around for a while, a school that was brick-and-mortar long before offering online degree programs.

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