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Printing, Propaganda, and Progress

Held in Germany and Switzerland, this program explores the impact of technology on Western Europe and Christianity since the invention of the printing press in 1440.

Program Overview

The printing press is arguably the most revolutionary and profound agent of change the world has seen in its political, social, religious, and economic affairs since the phonetic alphabet. How Johannes Gutenberg, the son of a religious economist and himself a goldsmith, combined the technologies of paper, oil-based ink, hot-metal type, and the screw-type wine press to achieve the medium of the book, the world’s first mass-produced commodity, and what its immediate and long-ranging effects were, will be the primary focus of the course. Along the way we will also learn about the genealogy of the interchangeable part, the invention of the clock, representative money, the rise of capitalism, and other techniques contributing to the modern world as characterized by market economies of mass production. How these changes in media forms affected the religious practice, and subsequent heritage of Germany, Switzerland, Western Europe, and the globalized world as a whole will be traced through a technology and culture tour that focuses on the rise of the machine and its impact on subsequent world history.

  • Sponsoring Department(s):  Communication, History, and Art
  • Program Leader(s): Dr. Read Schuchardt, Dr. Matthew Lundin, Cherith Lundin
  • Term: Summer
  • On-Campus Program Dates: May 13 - 18, 2019
  • International Program Dates:  May 18 - June 20, 2019 (tentative end date)
  • Estimated Cost: $5,625.00 (airfare not included)
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Eligibility: Open to Wheaton and non-Wheaton students; although the program was created primarily for Communication/Media Studies majors, it is useful, applicable, and of relevance to Philosophy, Education, Economics, Political-Science, Art, Theology, and German language majors as well.  Each year, about half of the students are from academic areas other than Communication.
  • Highlights:  One month of travel, two weeks in Germany and two weeks in Switzerland, with on-campus instruction prior to travel.

Course Offerings

All students must register for six credit hours and take two courses (4 credits Comm, 2 credits History OR 4 credits Comm, 2 credits Art). All students register for:

COMM 444: Printing, Protestantism, and Progress (4 credit hours)
The course is a combination of one week of on-campus instruction plus four weeks of in-country travel in eight key cities in Germany and Switzerland that are historic sites of significance in relation to: 1. The invention, evolution, and impact of printing press technology, 2. Martin Luther's formal education and origin of the Protestant Reformation (and later in John Calvin's Geneva and Huldrych Zwingli's Zurich) and 3. The evolution of propaganda from religious practice to political strategy in WWII Germany, and how these technological changes subsequently contributed both to the material and political culture of modernity in European and Western history. 

Students also select ONE course from the following options:

Hist 391:  Propaganda in Nazi Germany (2 credit hours)
“Religious madness and advertising madness”— that was how one 1930s diarist described Nazi rule. This course will examine propaganda and indoctrination under the Third Reich. From 1933 to 1945, the Nazi regime sought to control every aspect of media and cultural production in Germany. Propaganda was not limited to political speeches, posters, and rallies. Rather, the Nazis used anything they could—from school math problems to magazines for pet owners—to insinuate their ideology of “race” and “Volk” into everyday life. How effective was this propaganda? How was it experienced by Germans? By persecuted minorities within Germany? What broader lessons about human psychology and group behavior can we learn from this disastrous period?

ART 230: Drawing as Inquiry (2 credit hours)
This course explores drawing as a way of discovering and knowing place. Students will learn how to use drawing and sketching to observe, to record, to question, and to understand the layered realities imbedded in the places they will study and encounter in Germany and Switzerland. During the first week on campus, students will be introduced to a range of drawing media, approaches, and subject matter. The majority of the course work will consist of daily sketchbook assignments while travelling, supported by lectures and site-visits related to art and architecture. No previous drawing experience is necessary.

Program Fees

The estimated program fee covers tuition, room and board for the on-campus week (meals available M-F only), two weeks of lodging in Germany and two weeks of lodging in Switzerland, museum and/or site entry tickets at all scheduled museum/site visits, schedule guided tours, German and Swiss Rail Passes, and two meals per day while in Europe.

Estimated Additional Expenses: Students will be responsible for the cost of international airfare from Chicago to Frankfurt and the return from Zürich to their home. Students will also be responsible for:

  • The cost of textbooks and course materials
  • Saturday and Sunday meals while on-campus 
  • Transportation costs from Wheaton College to Chicago O’Hare airport on day of departure (shared cab)
  • Transportation costs from Frankfurt International Airport to Koenigshof Hotel (train)
  • One meal per day (on average) while in Europe
  • Passport or visa fees, if applicable
  • Personal expenses

Expense       Estimate
International airfare              $1,000.00
Textbooks/Course materials $100.00
Additional meals $500.00
Ground transportation to O'Hare $20.00
Ground transportation to Frankfurt Hotel $10.00


Learn More

If you would like further information or have questions about the program, please contact Dr. Read Schuchardt, Associate Professor of Communication. 

How to Apply

For more information and to apply, visit GoGlobal, Wheaton College's registration system for off-campus study and international travel, research, and internships.