Do you enjoy understated irony, indie music, and artisan coffee? You might be a hipster. This first-year writing course will explore how the term hipster has been defined from the 1940’s to the present day and what youth subculture can teach us about identity formation. Our first unit on “taste” will treat recent trends in food culture and ethical consumption in order to ask what descriptors like vegan, free-range, and fair trade reveal about social distinction and class. The second unit on “nostalgia” considers how hipsters cultivate a relationship to the past, whether this means buying vintage or learning to knit and pickle, all hallmarks of the New Domesticity. Finally, our third unit on “authenticity” will examine the degree to which irony informs the performance of hipster identity from geek chic to hip hop and beyond.
The primary objective of this course is to help students develop complex, analytic, and well-supported arguments that matter in academic contexts. Working closely with their peers and instructor, each student will produce 25-30 pages of polished prose by the end of the semester. Readings will span a variety of genres and disciplines with selections from Pierre Bourdieu, Slavoj Zizek, Baldassare Castiglione, Norman Mailer, and Jack Kerouac among others.