Culbert Family Book Prize for Publications on Media History dealing with Propaganda, Mass Persuasion and Public Opinion: Winner 2020

The IAMHIST Council and the editorial board of the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television are happy to announce that the “Culbert Family Book Prize for Publications on Media History dealing with Propaganda, Mass Persuasion and Public Opinion” is awarded to Benjamin G. Martin’s The Nazi-Fascist New Order for European Culture (Harvard University Press, 2016). Congratulations!

David H. Culbert (1943-2017) was a diligent media historian. More than anything else, his scholarly interest was the research on the history of propaganda, information policy and mass persuasion. He was John L. Loos Professor of History at Louisiana State University, an active IAMHIST council member and editor of the Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television from 1992 to 2012.

The book prize for publications on media history dealing with propaganda, mass persuasion and public opinion is awarded on behalf of the Culbert family for outstanding works looking at the history of ways in which media, public opinion, politics and diplomacy interact. The $2,500 prize is awarded biennially. The prize has been established by an endowment from Lubna Culbert.

Martin’s book explains how, after France’s crushing defeat in June 1940, the Nazis moved forward with plans to reorganize a European continent now largely under Hitler’s heel. While Germany’s military power would set the agenda, several among the Nazi elite argued that permanent German hegemony required something more: a pan-European cultural empire that would crown Hitler’s wartime conquests. At a time when the postwar European project is under strain, Benjamin G. Martin brings into focus a neglected aspect of Axis geopolitics, charting the rise and fall of Nazi-fascist “soft power” in the form of a nationalist and anti-Semitic new ordering of European culture.

As early as 1934, the Nazis began taking steps to bring European culture into alignment with their ideological aims. In cooperation and competition with Italy’s fascists, they courted filmmakers, writers, and composers from across the continent. New institutions such as the International Film Chamber, the European Writers Union, and the Permanent Council of composers forged a continental bloc opposed to the “degenerate” cosmopolitan modernism that held sway in the arts. In its place they envisioned a Europe of nations, one that exalted traditionalism, anti-Semitism, and the Volk. Such a vision held powerful appeal for conservative intellectuals who saw a European civilization in decline, threatened by American commercialism and Soviet Bolshevism.

Taking readers to film screenings, concerts, and banquets where artists from Norway to Bulgaria lent their prestige to Goebbels’s vision, Martin follows the Nazi-fascist project to its disastrous conclusion, examining the internal contradictions and sectarian rivalries that doomed it to failure.



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