This course will introduce students to scholarship on art and politics through the lens of 20th-century publics and counter-publics in the U.S. and Europe. We will begin with the rise of mass publics in fin-de-siècle U.S. and Europe and early film before turning to transnational debates over the democratic promise and totalitarian appropriation of the mass public at mid-century. We will also consider the control of publics via surveillance and supervision during the Cold War, the emergence of artistic and queer counter-publics, and the formation of virtual publics online. Throughout the semester, we will pair film screenings and visual art with canonical texts on popular culture, mass media, and the public sphere. In the process, we will introduce key theories and methods that historians and literary critics use in the study of modern publics and mass culture.