Uses of the Past - Propaganda and Fake News! The History of Mass Persuasion

CLLC-L 220 / Class 3279 — FALL 2024

Collins Edmondson Hall C112
Days and Times
Tu/Th 3:00 – 4:15 pm
Course Description

We usually think of propaganda as a bad thing, connected to anti-democratic messages on TikTok or “fake news.” But just what is propaganda, and how has it changed? Is this type of persuasion different from ad campaigns we view as normal? This course is a global history of propaganda from the twentieth century to the present. We will focus on the propagandists hoping to unlock the power of persuasion, and on the lives and cultures of ordinary people receiving and interpreting these messages. We adopt interdisciplinary techniques from historians, artists, gender scholars, and marketers to analyze sources like films, articles, opinion polls, and digital and print media. Exploring examples from across the globe, we will understand the power and limitations of mass persuasion. In the process, we will become more skilled communicators and consumers of information. 

Instructor: Thomas Stephens