FDCA 204

Modern Arts and Propaganda

Course Description

This course will focus on the use of propaganda, art, and other forms of persuasion starting with the Modern Era (approximately post-1860) and continuing to the present. Students will experience this topic through various social issues and cultural influences from around the world, including the visual, performing, and literary arts. The course emphasizes the development of aesthetic judgment and critical thinking.

Note: Students cannot receive credit for both FDCA 204 and FDHUM 103 (a course which no longer exists).   

Content and Topics

This is a humanities course concentrated on the theme of the Modern Arts and Propaganda.  The Humanities are the great ideas and values of people throughout the ages.  Disciplines within the Humanities (including history, the arts, literature, philosophy, theater, film, music, and dance) study the human condition, human expression, and our attempts to find meaning and fulfillment in life.  They also produce artifacts which demonstrate our humanity.

FDCA 204 specifically concentrates on the arts produced since the Modern Era, especially how they relate to propaganda and other forms of persuasion.  This is NOT a propaganda and advertising course.  Instead we look at the relationship between the arts and propaganda. Propaganda isn't just posters from WWII and art isn't just pictures of flowers.  The arts and propaganda intersect, contradict, reinforce and undermine each other in a variety of ways. 

Unlike the quantitative studies of the sciences, the humanities are qualitative.  That is, while people who study the humanities might gather or generate data, they more often analyze, critique, and synthesize.  As a result there is frequently more than one "right answer."  This is a complex topic that will require complex thinking.

Topics include:

      • Varying styles of visual art, music, literature, dance, theater, film, etc.
      • Themes from the Modern Era including religion, dystopias, humor, satire and parody, the social role of the arts, war, civil rights and oppression, the ideal of "the common man," consumerism, perceptions of beauty, trauma and healing, the importance of the ancient and historical, and others
      • Art and propaganda from various historical events and periods like World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, the Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War, etc.
      • Art and propaganda from various parts of the world    
Goals and Objectives

Students will:

    1. Understand how knowledge of the humanities can enrich their lives life and help them become thinking, intelligent people.  Becoming familiar with cognitive learning that is not always fact-based can expand understanding of the human experience, as well as increase empathy and spirituality. 
    2. Appreciate that the humanities are a manifestation of the times--specifically, how the arts reveal much about history, culture, religion, and ideology.   Be able to identify and describe a variety of modern art forms and genres in the arts and letters, placing various artworks in cultural and historical context.
    3. Acquire the tools needed to help evaluate the meanings, messages, quality, and agendas found in the arts and propaganda.  Identify the uses, characteristics, and value of propaganda and persuasion, both good and bad.  Develop the ability to analyze institutional, cultural, and personal bias.  
    4. Become familiar with major composers, artists, writers, movements, cultures, and historical events in Western and non-Western cultures, including their concerns, issues, arts, ideas, religion, and values as manifest through the humanities. 
    5. Develop the tools to make value assessments about quality in the arts, and be confident in finding and expressing opinions by studying the subject matter.   
Course Requirements

Requirements generally include exams, preparation quizzes, class discussion and participation, a novel report, film and event attendance and analysis, a propaganda poster, short essays, research projects, and other assignments at the professor's discretion. Students will complete assigned readings including: a packet, a novel, and at least one modern play.

Course Prerequisites
  • Completion of Writing and Reasoning (FDENG 101) with a D- or higher
  • Completion of American Foundations (FDAMF 101) with a D- or higher
  • Completion of Foundations of Humanities (FDCA 101) with a D- or higher
Semesters Taught

Winter, Spring, Fall

Course Lead

Joelle Moen
Joelle Moen