The Democratic Surround: An Evening with Fred Turner

Date(s) - 03/27/2014
4:30 pm - 6:45 pm

Freedom Forum Conference Center

Join the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy for The Democratic Surround: An Evening with Fred Turner. Turner is a media, technology, and American cultural history scholar and associate professor of Communication at Stanford University. The event will center on Turner’s new book, The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties.

4:30 p.m. Reception
5:30 p.m. Talk by Fred Turner

Both events are free and open to the public and will be held in the Freedom Forum Conference Center on the third floor of Carroll Hall on the UNC-CH campus.

About The Democratic Surround
In the early 1960s, young bohemians swayed together under the swirling lights of psychedelic slide shows, surrounded by walls of amplified sound, in dance halls and art galleries from Greenwich Village to San Francisco. For a generation of historians, those young people’s tribal rites have long represented a sharp break with a vastly more conservative early cold war media culture. Fred Turner makes a very different case. In his talk, Turner will first turn to World War II to explore the widespread fear that mass media technologies might turn Americans into authoritarians. He then will recount how, as the fighting began, American social scientists and Bauhaus refugees collaborated to produce new multimedia environments with which to turn the senses of their fellow citizens in explicitly democratic directions and so bolster their will to fight fascism. Turner will discuss how this turn became the basis for both two decades of Cold War American propaganda and the multimedia utopianism of the 1960s. As Turner traces this history, his presentation reconnects the immersive, multi-mediated environments of the 1960s to those of the decades that preceded them. In the process, his research reveals the long-forgotten links between the counterculture and mainstream, cold war America – as well as the long-hidden roots of our contemporary, multi-mediated social world.

About Fred Turner
Fred Turner is associate professor of communication and director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at Stanford University. His books include the widely acclaimed From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and The Rise of Digital Utopianism; and, most recently, The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties. His essays have tackled topics from the rise of reality TV to the role of Burning Man at Google. His books can be found online at

Tagged: Media, Politics, Speakers, Technology
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