Course description

When we think about the Third Reich, we cannot help but think of the violence and devastation inflicted upon millions by Adolf Hitler and the German people. We also recall well-known images of fanatic believers hallowing their charismatic leader in monumental demonstrations of self-surrender. To this day, Nazi Germany abides in collective memories as a site of mass murder and mass manipulation. This course focuses, however, on a third element that most of us do not so immediately associate with National Socialism, namely mass culture and its key role in history's first media dictatorship. We analyze seminal films of the Third Reich as popular commodities, ideological constructs, aesthetic artifacts, and historical entities. In so doing we seek to comprehend how the fantasy ware of the Hitler era functioned within the larger contexts of state terror, world war, and genocide. We are also concerned with the enduring afterlife of Nazi sights and sounds, especially their presence in contemporary popular culture.


  • Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University
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