Pop culture is a driving force in art, aesthetics, and culture at large. It is a sphere where politics, identities, and social questions are negotiated. Rather than denoting only the culture for and of the masses, it is characterized by the dialectical interplay between mainstream and subculture, their respective milieus and markets. Today, pop is no longer only a DIY culture of amateurs, but has become academic, oscillating between educational institutions, mainstream entertainment, counterculture(s), the fine arts, and various mixed forms. Hence, by being thoroughly globalised and hybrid, pop exists only in plural. Against this backdrop, this theme group explores pop cultures in theory and practice, in teaching and research, in Europe and in Asia. Due to their variability, plasticity, and connectivity, pop cultures are particularly suited for bringing various disciplines and degree programs together.

Two working groups are establishing continually running education formats for this theme. In 2019, they initiated both a summer school and a research network with a view to creating long-term collaborations:

The working group Pop Cultures Research is establishing a permanent research network. Its aim is to discuss the globalisation of pop cultures from a transcultural perspective, considering commonalities as well as spatial and historical idiosyncrasies. Unique about this network is that it’s made up of mainly art universities and focused on artistic research. A peer-reviewed online journal is planned.

The working group Pop Cultures Summer School has developed a cross-departmental and cross-university summer programme focusing on pop culture(s) in Europe and Asia. This programme is of interest for students seeking to deepen their knowledge of pop in global contexts. The programme fosters understanding of the site- and time-specific coding of globally circulating mainstream and underground forms of culture.