Politics and Design of World’s Fairs


Spring 2012


5th Floor Classroom


The world’s fair is a unique manifestation of the age of modern industrial capitalism. As fabricated environments staged to sell impressions and manipulate desire, world’s fairs (or expositions universelles and great exhibitions) encompassed grand schemes of planning and national and corporate pavilions, in addition to displays of machines, commodities, and people. This seminar ex­amines the history, design, and theory of the world’s fair in Europe and America, from the Great Exhibition in 1851 to exhibitions in the 1950s and 1960s, including the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs in 1925. The course explores topics such as mass production and design reform, the spectacle and politics of display, imperialism, and the construction of popular taste. 3 credits.