Modernism and Modernity in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany: A Reevaluation in Three Episodes
This talk explores modernism and modernity in fascist Italy and Nazi Germany by looking at three episodes in the history of the Rome-Berlin “cultural axis” in the 1930s and during World War II. Episode one explores a conflict over modernism that blew up at a 1937 exhibition of Italian art in Berlin. Episode two follows Joseph Goebbels’s visit to the 1939 Venice Biennale Film Festival. In episode three we follow the director of Nazi Germany’s Reich Broadcasting Company as he visited the building site outside Rome where Mussolini’s Italy was preparing for a world exposition to be held in 1942. Taken together, these snapshots illustrate some ways that a transnational approach to the two regimes’ cultural diplomacy can shed new light on long-standing debates in the historiography on fascism and national socialism.
Benjamin Martin is researcher in the Department of History of Science and Ideas at Uppsala University, Sweden. A graduate of the University of Chicago and Columbia University, he taught previously at San Francisco State University and led Uppsala’s branch of the Erasmus Mundus MA Program Euroculture. His 2016 book, The Nazi-Fascist New Order for European Culture (Harvard University Press), recently won the Culbert Prize of the International Association for Media and History. Martin’s newest research project, supported by a grant from the Swedish Research Council, uses digital methods to explore global intellectual history through a large-scale study of “international ideas” at UNESCO.