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Spectacle

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Edited By Jennifer Creech and Thomas O. Haakenson

How does the visual nature of spectacle inform the citizenry, destabilize the political, challenge aesthetic convention and celebrate cultural creativity? What are the limits – aesthetic, political, social, cultural, economic – of spectacle? How do we explain the inherently exclusionary, revolutionary, dehumanizing and utopian elements of spectacle?
In this book, authors from the fields of cultural studies, cinema studies, history and art history examine the concept of spectacle in the German context across various media forms, historical periods and institutional divides. Drawing on theoretical models of spectacle by Guy Debord, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, Jonathan Crary and Michel Foucault, the contributors to this volume suggest that a decidedly German concept of spectacle can be gleaned from critical interventions into exhibitions, architectural milestones, audiovisual materials and cinematic and photographic images emerging out of German culture from the Baroque to the contemporary.
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Spectacular Settings for Nazi Spectacles: Mass Theater in the Third Reich

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Introduction

Impressions of Nazi spectacles in their different shapes and forms – ranging from parades through German cities, Nuremberg Party Rallies to the opening ceremony of the 1936 Olympic Games – dominate our view of the Third Reich and have imprinted long-lasting images in our minds.1 While many of us lack personal experience of the Third Reich, we still think we know what Fascism looked like. This look, so it seems, was seductive, spectacular and all-embracing, staging the greatness of Hitler and the National Socialist State. Leni Riefenstahl’s films Triumph of the Will and Olympia on the 1934 Nazi party rally and on the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, respectively, certainly helped to create these visual impressions of Fascist aesthetics and of the staging of politics.2 Historians’ studies reminding us of the staging, rehearsal and manipulation that went into National Socialist ← 157 | 158 → propaganda have not yet changed popular assumptions on its alleged perfection and effectiveness.3

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