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  • Cultural Nationalism and Democracy’s Opinion Leaders

    Giorgio Bertellini

    Chapter from the book: Bertellini, G. 2019. The Divo and the Duce: Promoting Film Stardom and Political Leadership in 1920s America.


    In this chapter I discuss critical debates about political power and mass-mediated persuasion vis-à-vis America’s uniquely transnational fabric. I examine Walter Lippmann (and other New Republic editorialists) and John Dewey’s views on the delicate balance between democratic life and public opinion management, as well as the interventions on America’s transnational identity by Horace Kallen and Randolph Bourne. Cinema was not extraneous to these debates. Motion pictures became, especially in Lippmann’s work, a paradigmatic form of powerful and manipulative knowledge: he bemoaned the a-rational process of mass reception by referring to crowds’ lingering prejudices as “pictures in their head.” The war decade did not just see the intervention of dystopian intellectuals, however. Enthusiastic publicity supporters, beginning with the so-called father of public relations, Edward Bernays, sought to achieve civic and commercial recognition for public-opinion management.

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    Bertellini, G. 2019. Cultural Nationalism and Democracy’s Opinion Leaders. In: Bertellini, G, The Divo and the Duce. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.62.c

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on Jan. 15, 2019