ASC’s Popular Culture Scientific Group

ASC’s Popular Culture Scientific Group is a special team of American Studies Center students working under the guidance of ASC’s mass media and popular culture specialist, Dr Urszula Jarecka with the goal of presenting various aspects of American popular culture to wider audience. Fashion, eating habits, religion, technology, music and cinema, electronic entertainment and technology are among topics touched during meetings coordinated by the group. Our meetings aside from free-participation discussions and members’ presentations may include commentaries prepared by various guests specializing in given themes. The group meetings usually take place on Wednesdays in the late afternoon in room 317 at American Studies Center.

Upcoming meetings

Past meetings

  • December 17, 2012 @ 6 pm

    ASC’s Popular Culture Scientific Group invites you to a documentary screening followed by a discussion. We are going to look at the connections between one of the world’s most popular soda pops with one of the world’s most beloved celebrations. What do Coca-Cola and Christmas have in common? Bring your Christmas Spirit (and some will to participate in the discussion) to ASC and find out! As usually, our meeting is OZN friendly - 2 points from Santa! [ download poster ]

  • November 19, 2012 @ 5:30 pm

    Do you Believe in Magic? - Witchcraft and Salem Witch Trials [ download poster ]

  • May 22, 2012 @ 6 pm
  • May 16, 2012 @ 6 pm

    We continue our discussion with the issue of fashion industry in the United States. The meeting started with the presentation prepared by Magdalena Chylińska and Barbara Swolkień about Vogue as a fashion mainstream magazine, and its impact on American society as well as world trends in fashion. The movie September Issue became the main focus of the discussion. It presented Anna Wintour - the editor-in-chief of American Vogue - and her team preparations for as it turned out the most important September Issue. Screening of the movie was followed by a short commentary made by our guest Helena Chmielewska-Szlajfer. She emphasized various connotations with American popular culture and elaborated on particular figures that appeared in the production. The last part of the meeting was student’s discussion opened by Barbara Swolkień. The debate concentrated on Anna Wintour’s image in the movie which we contrasted with the one presented in successful Hollywood production entitled The Devil Wears Prada. We also discussed Vogue’s editorial staff attitude toward financial issues of the magazine, and their private sense of fashion style.

March 28, 2012
Fashion Industry - The importance of being glamorous
January 18, 2012
Apocalypse and Beyond

Again Apocalypse but this time we watched alternative/artistic movie by Charlie Kaufman Synechdoche, New York which is by the way his directing debut. We exchanged opinions about a movie comparing it to Melancholia by Lars Von Trier and any other apocalyptic cinema which we know as Margin Call or 2012. Our guest speaker dr Agnieszka Graff showed many different aspects of Kaufman’s movie and ways of interpreting the sense of living which the director shows. We have also made some references to Baudrillard and Borges. The meeting ended up with the question of gender in both movies which picture both sexes from completely different perspectives although both made by male directors. Next semester we will turn to more optimistic topics but we can definitely say that we know what apocalypse is all about.

December 14, 2011
Mormons and all the religions - American beliefs

The discussion of American religiousness and especially the Mormons. As earlier we discussed the phenomenon of apocalypse - and as we have seen America is well prepared for the end. Philipe Earl Steele gave us a lecture on religious beliefs and its various dimensions. Especially the connection with politics and Israel. Our guest is familiar with the Mormons customs and beliefs so obviously students asked mostly about Mormons’ lifestyle. We tried to answer a question why 94% of the American society claims to believe in God and how the media stimulates their convictions (?). The discussion was so lively and there were a lot of people present that we should probably prepare another meeting on a similar topic.

December 9, 2011
Lars von Trier’s Melancholia - it’s going to be a beautiful end of the world

The apocalypse is a subject that has always been present in cinematography, but probably only the troubled Lars von Trier, could show it so beautifully that you almost want to die… Ok, maybe not. ? But still the film makes a great impression! Thanks to our guest speaker, C. Cain Elliot, we were able to see how the end of the world is pictured in other great, mainly Jewish, minds like those of E. Bloch, F. Rosenzweig, G. Scholem, J. Taubes and W. Benjamin. Using their ideas of what will be and what is coming, we tried to evaluate what meaning does the film give us. Again, as many heads so many ideas! We ended with a conclusion that what we believe in, is depended on from which angel we are looking, Justine’s or Claire’s?

November 30, 2011
Steve Jobs - iCon or not?

According to Oxford’s Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, an icon is “a famous person or thing that people admire and see as a symbol of a particular idea, way of life”. Iconic - “acting as a sign or symbol of something”. Therefore, the widely recognized American business man and inventor, the pioneer of the personal computer revolution, the creator of Apple - probably the most recognized brands nowadays, is without any doubt the definition of an icon, right? WRONG! It turns out not everyone understands what or who an icon is. Therefore, our meeting turned out to be a battle between two groups. One that clearly knew Jobs deserves to be perceived as an icon, not because he’s “warm and fuzzy”, but because he simply fulfilled the criteria for being one; and the other group, which refused to admit the fact because they disliked the way he achieved the position. All in all, whether you like it or not, an icon just is, and nothing or anyone can change that.

November 16, 2011
Woody Allen and his jazz band - Wild Man Blues

On November 16, 2011 the group discussed the 1998 documentary film Wild Man Blues, directed by Barbara Kopple. The film is about the musical avocation of actor, director and comic - Woody Allen. The movie’s title comes from a jazz composition attributed to Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong, and performed and recorded by both artists. Woody Allen’s love for New Orleans music is depicted in the film, where the viewer accompanies Allen through his 1996 world tour with his band - the New Orleans Jazz Band. Allen’s role in the band is to play the clarinet, which he has been doing for the past 25 years. Good musician or not (the group argued rather not), Woody Allen plays the front role in the band’s success. Although, the primarily focus of the film is the European tour and Woody Allen’s hilarious character, the group agreed that much interest is paid to Allen’s relationship with Soon Li-Previn. In fact, the film is the first major public showcase of their relationship. Thanks to our guest speaker, prof. Ewa Hauser, we saw Allen as we have never seen him before. Regret you didn’t!

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