Crowds and Democracy: The Idea and Image of the Masses from Revolution to Fascism

Hardcover | October 1, 2013

byStefan Jonsson

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Between 1918 and 1933, the masses became a decisive preoccupation of European culture, fueling modernist movements in art, literature, architecture, theater, and cinema, as well as the rise of communism and fascism and experiments in radical democracy.

Spanning aesthetics, cultural studies, intellectual history, and political theory, this volume unpacks the significance of the shadow agent known as "the mass" during a critical period in European history. It follows its evolution into the preferred conceptual tool for social scientists, the ideal slogan for politicians, and the chosen image for artists and writers trying to capture a society in flux and a people in upheaval. This volume is the second installment in Stefan Jonsson's epic study of the crowd and the mass in modern Europe, building on his work in A Brief History of the Masses, which focused on monumental artworks produced in 1789, 1889, and 1989.

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From the Publisher

Between 1918 and 1933, the masses became a decisive preoccupation of European culture, fueling modernist movements in art, literature, architecture, theater, and cinema, as well as the rise of communism and fascism and experiments in radical democracy. Spanning aesthetics, cultural studies, intellectual history, and political theory, ...

Stefan Jonsson is a writer and critic based in Sweden and professor of ethnic studies at Linköping University. His previous books include A Brief History of the Masses: Three Revolutions and Subject Without Nation: Robert Musil and the History of Modern Identity.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:October 1, 2013Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231164785

ISBN - 13:9780231164788

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Read an excerpt from the chapter, "Introducing the Masses":

Table of Contents

List of IllustrationsPreface 1. Introducing the Masses: Vienna2. Authority Versus Anarchy: Allegories of the Mass in Sociology and Literature3. The Revolving Nature of the Social: Primal Hordes and Crowds Without Qualities4. Collective Vision: A Matrix for New Art and Politics5. Coda: Remnants of WeimarNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

Stefan Jonsson's book analyzes in depth, but also with wit and elegance, the centrality of the 'masses' as a problematic category in the troubled trajectories of Germany and Austria in the interwar period. Reading discourses and images that range from sociology to theater and photography, with Simmel and Freud as core theorists of the new regime of the collective passions and expressionism and modernism as extreme forms of its aesthetic representation, Jonsson convincingly argues that what was at stake and made democracy unstable was not only the violence of political movements but also the aporia of the modern individuality. This offers fascinating insights into our own contemporary cultural crisis.