Pop culture is one of those vexed terms that we all use, but that means different things to different people. A recent article in College English, "Why Teach Popular Culture," by Bethany Ogdon, takes sixteen pages to discuss the evasive and polemical nature of the words "popular" and "culture." Since my aim is not to pin down what I mean when I use the term "pop culture" versus what others have meant when they use "pop culture," I will stick to just providing a few definitions that I think outline a working understanding for the purpose of this paper. The Mercury Reader, a book used in first year composition at Illinois State University, defines pop culture as "everything except the particular interests of the most educated and affluent members of society, whose tastes we refer to as high culture" (97). Common Culture, a pop cultural reader, defines it as "the shared knowledge and practices of a specific group at a specific time […] pop culture both reflects and influences people's way of life […] pop culture is transitory, subject to change, and often an initiator of change" (4). Thus when I say "pop culture," I mean the culture of the masses, including popular music, television shows, commercials, brand names, advertisements, sports, the Internet, movies, fashion, etc.


I created this website by revisioning a paper I wrote, called "Creating Pop Cultural Critics: Using Advertisements in First Year Composition." If you are interested in learning more about this topic, or in seeing the full version of this text, please email me.

Jessie McKinney


Last Updated: February 13, 2004