Media @ McGill

Audio: Fred Turner Lecture – The Family of Man and the Politics of Attention in Cold War America

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Speaker Series 2013: Fred Turner

                                                                                                                           UPDATE: Audio recording of Fred Turner’s talk is now available for download. You can download the MP3 directly.

Fred Turner Lecture –– “The Family of Man and the Politics of Attention in Cold War America”

Media@McGill is pleased to welcome Fred Turner as its winter 2013 Media@McGill Beaverbrook Visiting Scholar. During his stay within the Department of Art History and Communication Studies from March 16th to 30th, Professor Turner will give a talk entitled, “The Family of Man and the Politics of Attention in Cold War America,” on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. in Room W-215. The event is a collaboration between Media@McGill and the AHCS Speaker Series, and is free and open to the public.


In 1955, the Museum of Modern Art mounted one of the most widely seen – and widely excoriated – photography exhibitions of all time, “The Family of Man.” For the last forty years, critics have decried the show as a model of the psychological and political repression of cold war America. This talk challenges that view. It shows how the immersive, multi-image aesthetics of the exhibition emerged not from the cold war, but from the World War II fight against fascism. It then demonstrates that “The Family of Man” aimed to liberate the senses of visitors, and especially, to enable them to embrace racial, sexual and cultural diversity – even as it enlisted their perceptual faculties in new modes of collective self-management. For these reasons, the talk concludes, the exhibition became an influential prototype of the immersive, multi-media environments of the 1960s – and of our own multiply mediated social world today.


Fred Turner is an Associate Professor of Communication at Stanford University, where he studies media, technology and American cultural history.

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