Advertising and Society
School: Duke University
Registration Link: Advertising and Society
Start Date: February 16, 2015 (7 Weeks Long)
Workload: 3-4 Hours Per Week
Instructor: William M. O’Barr
Credentials: O’Barr is a Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University, where his research focuses on legal anthropology, popular culture, and Africa. Recognized as one of Duke’s top teachers, he is the author or co-author of 10 books, including Culture and the Ad: Exploring Otherness in the World of Advertising and Just Words: Law, Language, and Power. He also founded the Advertising & Society Review and oversees ADText, an interdisciplinary advertising curriculum done in conjunction with the Advertising Educational Foundation. O’Barr holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University.
Graded: Students will receive a signed Certificate of Accomplishment for completing this course.
Description: Ranked among Duke’s most popular undergraduate courses, Advertising and Society “examines the relation of advertising to society, culture, history, and the economy.” Each weekly section revolves around a particular question, such as the origins of advertising, the process of making ads, advertising ethics, and what ads reflect about race, class, gender, and sex. The course also ties particular ads to various disciplinary theories. The course consists of video lectures, PowerPoints, sample print and television ads, and quizzes.
Review: “Great course on the basics behind the analysis of the sociological dimensions of advertising. The course is extremely interesting in case you’re interested in this area. It clears up – or at minimum complexifies – issues taken as dogma regarding the advertisements world. It is simplistic to believe in evil manipulative advertisers that bombard us with subliminal messages constantly, who are sexist and bigoted and create needs that force us to buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have. That’s a nice little litany, but the truth is far more nuanced. This course presents you with many layers of interpretation in a very colorful way.
The evaluation is trivially simple, and the course seems a bit short – there was definitely an opportunity to extend and go more in-depth. But in any case, much recommended!” For additional reviews, click
Additional Note: According to O’Barr, “This is NOT a course about advertising techniques and how to do advertising. Rather, it is a liberal arts course that examines the place of advertising in contemporary society and culture.”