The Democratic Surround: How Culture and Personality Anthropology Shaped American Multimedia

15 Nov 2017
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

UCSF Laurel Heights Campus, Room 474

Event Type
Non-CSTMS Event

Fred Turner
Harry and Norman Chandler Professor of Communication & Department Chair, Department of Communication, Stanford University

Today we find ourselves surrounded by screens – on our iPhones, our tablets, our desktop computers. Little do we know that we are living out the multimedia dreams of several dozen Cold War social scientists, a handful of Bauhaus artists, and the musician John Cage. This talk will return to those dreams and to the particular role that culture and personality anthropology played in shaping them. In the process, it will lay bare the long-buried intellectual roots of America’s post-World War II multimedia revolution and provide a rich historical context for thinking about the potential social impact of digital environments today.



Fred Turner is a cultural historian and Harry and Norman Chandler Professor of Communication at Stanford University. Since the late 1990s, he has been tracing the ways in which changes in computing and American culture have shaped one another. He is the author of several books, including the award-winning From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism, and most recently, its prequel, The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties.