PAUL LERNER (University of Southern California) will discuss the intertwined histories of German Jews and consumer culture, focusing on department stores in pre-Nazi Germany and advertising, malls, and amusement parks in post-war America, showing how Jewish immigrants from Germany and Austria shaped American consumer culture in the 20th century. Concentrating on several key figures, this lecture will follow the paths of architects, designers, and publicists who brought European notions of planning and Freudian psychoanalysis overseas and helped create modern American urban and commercial culture.
In his 2015 book, The Consuming Temple, Paul Lerner argued that in Germany, from the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries, the department store was viewed as a Jewish institution. He traced representations of this powerful new form of retail and its intersections with major tendencies in Jewish economic and cultural history. In this lecture he builds on the earlier analysis, but extends the story into the postwar United States, showing how Jewish immigrants from Germany and Austria shaped American consumer culture in the twentieth century. Concentrating on several key figures, Lerner follows the paths of architects, designers, and publicists who brought European notions of planning and Freudian psychoanalysis overseas and helped create modern American urban and commercial culture.
Paul Lerner, a scholar of modern German history, European Jewish culture and the history of the human sciences, is Professor of History at the University of Southern California where he directs the Max Kade Institute for Austrian-German-Swiss Studies. He is the author of The Consuming Temple: Jews, Department Stores and the Consumer Revolution in Germany, 1880-1940 (Cornell 2015) and Hysterical Men: War, Psychiatry and the Politics of Trauma in Germany, 1890-1930 (Cornell 2003) and co-editor of Traumatic Pasts: History, Psychiatry and Trauma in the Modern Age (Cambridge, 2001) and Jewish Masculinities: German Jews, Gender and History (Indiana, 2012). Lerner has held fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the ACLS, and the German Academic Exchange Service, among others, and is currently working on several projects concerning German-speaking exiles and émigrés, the history of psychoanalysis and the history and theory of consumer culture.