Course Information

Course Description | Grade Distribution | Required Texts

Class Time: T & Th 2:30 - 4:00
Room: Duncker 3
Instructors: Sabine Eckmann | Lutz Koepnick
Email: (Eckmann) (Koepnick)
Telephone: 935-5496 (Eckmann)
  935-4350 (Koepnick)
Office: Steinberg Hall Basement (Eckmann)
  Ridgley 328 (Koepnick)
Office Hours: Mon 12-1 & by appointment (Eckmann)
  Mon 1-2 & Wed 1-2 & by appointment (Koepnick)

Course Description

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.

Grade Distribution

  • Participation and attendance: 30%
  • 1 Presentation on either 10/10/02, 19/11/02, and 11/21/02 (10 minutes): 20%
  • 1 Thought Paper, to be posted online (500 words): 10%
  • 1 Paper (10-12 pages / 1-page abstract with bibliographical informantion due by 11/7/02): 40%

Required Texts

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

All books available for purchase at the Washington University Bookstore:

  • Bürger, Peter. Theory of the Avant-Garde. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984.
  • Debord, Guy. Society of the Spectacle. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1995.
  • Falasca-Zamponi, Simonetta. Fascist Spectacle: The Aesthetics of Power in Mussolini's Italy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
  • Leach, Neil. The Anaesthetics of Architecture. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999.

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