Propaganda! Origins & Developments (BA)

Conflicts and wars are not won on the battle field alone: Also the public struggle over the prerogative of interpretation plays an instrumental part in determining the fate of political and violent conflict. Unlike legitimate means of political controversy, propaganda seeks to mobilize supporters, discredit and demoralize opponents by excluding the possibility of legitimate dissent, resorting to anti-pluralist strategies. The suspicion that successful propaganda may have contributed to enabling the horrors of World War II has been foundational to the field of communication science, and the same questions have remained central concerns in communication research up until today. In this class, we will tackle propaganda from a variety of perspectives: How does propaganda function? What effects does it have? How do journalists deal with propaganda, and how do online media alter the way in which propaganda is used? As propagandistic activities continue to shape contemporary political debates in most conflicts the study of propaganda is gaining renewed importance.

Course Topics:

  • All that propaganda! Getting to terms
  • It all began with propaganda: Origins of communication research
  • One people, one nation, one propaganda! Totalitarian political agitation
  • Why we fight: World War propaganda of the democracies
  • The enemy never sleeps: Propaganda in the Cold War
  • Of vermin and valiance: Propaganda narratives
  • Mission accomplished: Does propaganda work?
  • The omnipresent threat: Modern forms of propaganda
  • Chosen nations: Public diplomacy and Hasbara
  • Tales of a devious world: Media coverage of propaganda
  • Trust me, I’m a blogger: Propaganda online
  • All that propaganda! Dealing with propaganda in a charged debate