ANTH 287
Propaganda Spring 2019
Division II
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We live in the age of mass persuasion. From commercial ads to political campaigns, from mass media “news”-both fake and real-to large scale movements for social change, we are constantly bombarded by powerful messages that aim to capture, hold, and impact our attention and direct our actions. Drawing on symbolic socio-linguistic analysis, we will examine the institutional and technical apparatus of modern propaganda and will discuss the role of intellectuals, “attention merchants,” and receptive audiences in creating the propaganda machine. We will pay special attention to campaigns that aim to overthrow social structures, or to ensure their maintenance and functioning. We will engage with explicit messages received via propagandistic media and implicit directives that aim to silence, obfuscate, and erase. Theoretical discussions will be complemented with intense, in-depth investigations of case studies of persuasive techniques in the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda, Cold war culture wars, Middle Eastern and Post-Soviet regimes, U.S. and Russian electoral and political campaigns. As we explore the overwhelming diversity of persuasive techniques of contemporary propaganda apparatus, we will turn our attention to various ways through which it impacts and molds our individual selves: from organizing dreams and desires to shaping autobiographies. We will conclude the course by creating our own examples of persuasive mass communication.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: none
Expected: 25
Class#: 3076
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: one midterm, one group research project, three short papers
Prerequisites: none
Distributions: Division II

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