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date: 02 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses the relatively unexplored relationship between propaganda and pleasure. In order to develop a more complex account of propaganda’s dependence on pleasure, it moves from Freud to the Frankfurt School (especially the work of Kracauer, Adorno, and Benjamin), teasing out implicit theories of pleasure’s relationship to propaganda, before assessing in this context Jacques Ellul’s account of propaganda as fulfilling the fundamental needs of citizens in twentieth-century modernity. The article concludes by showing how the fiction of James Joyce, taken as an exemplar of literary modernism, engages with questions of propaganda and pleasure (in part in response to the British World War I propaganda campaign) through a mobilization of multiple forms of pleasure designed to disrupt the persuasive power of propaganda.

Keywords: pleasure, Kracauer, Siegfried, Freud, Sigmund, Benjamin, Walter, Joyce, James, Ellul, Jacques, modernism, World War I, British (propaganda)

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