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The Consumerist Gaze

Semester and Year SP 2017
Course Number IDSEM-UG1921
Section 001
Instructor Lisa Daily
Days TR
Time 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   SOC



Through a critical exploration of ‘the consumerist gaze,’ this class considers how global capitalism as a process of production and consumption is mediated by the circulation of commodity images. More specifically, we seek to understand the role of commodity images in shaping consumer practices and politics, ways of thinking and seeing, and notions of belonging and difference. In the contemporary moment, that which is gazed upon takes any number of avenues from promises for a better self, environment, or world to images of racialized, exoticized, gendered, sexualized, classed, and ‘othered’ bodies and ways of being. While we will consider the origins of ‘the gaze’ as a theoretical approach, the consumerist variety acts as an especially useful framework by employing an interdisciplinary lens that utilizes cultural theory, visual culture, critical geography, business and advertising ethics, and political economy. Possible case studies and topics include: the United Colors of Benetton “Sentenced to Death” campaign, TOMS Shoes’ visualization of ethics in its model of poverty alleviation and examples of ‘poverty-porn,’ the ‘pinking’ of breast cancer awareness products, and commodity-activism. Possible readings include Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall, Jean Baudrillard, Laura Mulvey, Anne McClintock, Teju Cole, Sut Jhally, Roland Barthes, and Walter Benjamin.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)