Mass Culture, Counterculture, and the Avant-garde in Postwar Europe

This course examines the production, critique, and transformation of mass culture in postwar Western Europe. Although it focuses primarily on France and West Germany, the course makes occasional forays into the U.K., Italy, and the Netherlands. Drawing from anthropological theories of ritual, symbolic communication, and performance, the course contends that postwar mass culture was much more than a form of entertainment for the masses; it functioned as a horizon of meaning, a set of practices and beliefs that structured the rhythms of everyday existence. After exploring some of the “dreamworlds” of postwar mass culture, the course shifts into an examination of the diverse attempts to subvert and transform the mass cultural “habitus,” ranging from the theoretical critiques of figures like Herbert Marcuse, to the countercultural practices of groups like the Situationists, to the intimate fantasies on display at the conference of furries.

Space Available – Block 2
For further information, contact Jake Smith (

Posted by for the September 1, 2017 digest.

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