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HISTORY 225G: Propaganda Century: 20th-Century Preoccupations with Mass Influence

The course explores the idea of propaganda as one of the central obsessions of 20th-century thought and politics. It traces the history of propaganda, from the early 20th century optimistic ideas about mass manipulation and political education to post-WWII anxieties around totalitarianism and capitalist public opinion manipulation. The course examines just how malleable or resistant various 20th-century belief systems considered societies to be. It also explores how they have thought of the ethics and desirability of mass persuasion and how they struggled with adjacent concepts such as the crowd, mass society, totalitarianism, false consciousness, manufactured consent, etc. It concludes by exploring the waning of propaganda discourse in the late-1980s. As an epilogue, we will discuss propaganda's modified resurgence a generation later in today's concerns over "new media," "viral misinformation," and "indoctrination." The course aims to help students historicize the concept of propaganda and contextualize it transnationally, bridging cultural, political, and theoretical divides.
Terms: Spr | Units: 5
Instructors: Nurmis, K. (PI)
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