German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, and Soviet Stalinism built heavily on aesthetic material-on art, architecture, exhibition culture, film and photography-in order to legitimate totalitarian rule. They aspired to transform the state into a spectacular work of art while at the same time providing their citizens with peculiarly modern diversions. This course is intended to offer a theoretical, historical, and comparative framework through which to analyze the political dimensions of modern aesthetic culture. Readings and class discussions address issues such as the role of aesthetic experiences in shaping collective values, supporting dominant ideologies, and articulating counter-hegemonic agendas; the function of exhibition institutions such as museums, theaters, and public memorials in constructing national identities; and the role of mass-cultural technologies such as film, photography, and more recently the Internet in displaying political authority. Examining diverse materials from different national contexts, this interdisciplinary seminar will also inquire about the legacy of modern aesthetic culture to our own age of media politics and highly orchestrated spectacles of power. All readings and discussions in English. Undergraduates with permission of instructors.
Xerox packet available from Hi-Tech Copy Center, 375 N. Big Bend Blvd. (Includes all readings marked with an "*" in the Course Schedule.).
Course Reader: List of Content/Bibliographical Information
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