Andrea Rotenberg

The Politics of Popular Culture

On-site in Tartu 28 July - 11 August 2024

Though often dismissed as “just a bit of fun” (Way, 2021), popular culture’s role in influencing and reflecting broader political developments is finally starting to receive the academic attention it deserves. From Banksy’s street art, to the Olympic games, via Eurovision song contest and even our favourite food, popular culture is the medium through which we most often experience and consume politics as part of the “taken for granted everyday world” (Machin, 2013). Yet it is precisely this inseparability from the ideologies and power relations with which it is infused (Machin, 2013), that makes popular culture such a challenging and important subject for academic research. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in Ukraine, where cultural fields including sport, art and music have been described by the British government as a crucial “third front” in the ongoing war with Russia (BBC, 2021).

This course provides an overview of the methodological tools required to assess a diverse range of research questions related to politics and popular culture, including Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Multi-modal Discourse Analysis (MMDA). Interactive seminars and lectures on the course introduce students to the key theoretical, practical and methodological issues affecting the ways politics interacts with popular culture. Students will also have numerous opportunities to apply the relevant theoretical knowledge and analytical frameworks to analyse concrete case studies in both group and individual tasks.

In 2024, the course will also take full advantage of the interactive and immersive learning environment in Tartu during the city’s year as European Capital of Culture, enabling students to explore some of the most important issues affecting the relationship between politics and popular culture in Estonia and beyond.  

Focus area: Political Studies Coordinating unit at UT

Faculty of Social Sciences

Study Field: Political Studies Course Leader Michael Cole, University of Tartu
Format Summer course Location Tartu, Estonia
Course dates: 28 July - 11 August 2024 Apply by: 30 April 2024
ECTS: 3 Fee: 550 EUR
Study MA/PhD and advanced BA Language English


  • Michael Cole, University of Tartu


UniTartu Summer School DAAD Scholarship
UniTartu Summer School DAAD Scholarship (autor: erakogu)

In collaboration with DAAD, the University of Tartu offers 5 scholarships for the course The Politics of Popular Culture for German students.

More information and the application form are on the DAAD scholarship page


Two weeks prior to the start of the programme an information file will be sent to all participants. This file contains the daily schedule and relevant contact information of the programme managers.

Students are responsible for their travel, accommodation and travel insurance (visa arrangements if needed) from their home country to Tartu and back to their home country. It is recommended to visit the Tartu Welcome Centre website and arrival and housing section to find accommodation opportunities.