Course code:



IM - Introductory/Intermediate

Class size limit:


Typically offered:


Much contemporary “underground” youth culture has roots in the socio-political moment of the 1990s. One could argue that the mainstreaming and co-opting of subcultures like grunge and hip hop—and the styles, gatherings and cottage industries they spawned—began a newly rapid cultural cycling under which we still operate. Contributing to this pace in the 90s was the rise of online communities, as well as zines, mix tapes and other forms of gathering and networking. In this American/cultural studies course, you’ll consider some of your current values and passions through this historical/theoretical lens. We’ll consider what helped bring the “alternative” and “postmodern” to the mainstream–and what that means for us today. We’ll study films, music, sites and moments—from riot grrrl to MTV, Al Gore to Kurt Cobain, Seattle to Compton, Earth Day to the Gulf War to the AIDS crisis—that shaped the 90s and are still very much alive in current “Portlandias.” Potential texts include COA’s burgeoning zine collection, Douglas Coupland’s novel Generation X, movies like Do the Right Thing, Slacker, Pulp Fiction, Clueless, and The Year That Punk Broke, and essays and theory by Lisa Chamberlain, Kurt Anderson, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Francis Fukuyama, bell hooks, and more. Students will be evaluated based on participation in classroom discussion and a series of smaller assignments which serve as building blocks toward a final independent research project, and on that final project itself.



Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.