[UCP Books]: The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties

“The photographic wartime propaganda of Road to Victory or the post-war humanism of The Family of Man usually don't come to mind when accounting for Happenings, Be-Ins, expanded cinema, or Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable, but they are tightly woven in the social fabric of Turner’s The Democratic Surround. In what will surely be a controversial revision, Turner maps the attempts of social scientists, industrial designers, European expats, and others to mold democratic personalities as a bulwark against authoritarianism, forming a civil foundation upon which arose spatial media experiments of the arts and
counterculture of the 1960s.”
—Douglas Kahn, author of
Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts

The Democratic Surround
Multimedia and American Liberalism from
World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties

Fred Turner


US Publication date: 6 January 2014 UK Publication date: 15 January 2014
ISBN-13: 978-0-226-81746-0 Cloth $32.50/£23.00



We commonly think of the psychedelic ’60s as an explosion of creative energy and freedom that arose in direct revolt against the social restraint and authoritarian hierarchy of the early Cold War years. Yet, in this prequel to his celebrated book From Counterculture to Cyberculture, Fred Turner rewrites the history of postwar America, showing how in the 1940s and ’50s American liberalism actually offered a far more radical social vision than we now remember.

From the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the New Bauhaus in Chicago and Black Mountain College in North Carolina, Turner shows how some of the most well-known artists and intellectuals of the forties developed new models of media and new visions of an open, tolerant, and democratic self in direct contrast to the repression and conformity associated with the fascist and communist movements. He reveals how their work shaped some of the most significant media events of the Cold War, and, ultimately, the psychedelic Be-Ins of the sixties. Turner demonstrates that by the end of the 1950s this vision of the democratic self and the media built to promote it would actually become part of the mainstream, even shaping American propaganda efforts in Europe.


Fred Turner is associate professor of communication at Stanford University. His other books include From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism, also published by the University of Chicago Press. He is available for interviews. Please contact Carrie Olivia Adams at (773) 702-4216 or cadams@press.uchicago.edu

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