Texts that deal with World Exhibitions (see: World’s Fairs, Expos, etc.) as cultural phenomena; that consider their essence and their contemporaneity; that provide, whether implicitly or explicitly, a context for Expo ‘67 as a particular manifestation of this genre of historical event.

  • Altick, Richard.
    The Shows of London. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1978.
    Sequel to previous book (The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public, 1800-1900), in which he focused upon the manner in which the public was formed through phenomena associated with reading. In this text, he looks instead at the role of spectacle in the formation of the public, both literate and illiterate. Within this (loosely termed) pedagogical framework, Altick looks to the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition as most striking and complete example.
  • Benjamin, Walter.
    “Food Fair: Epilogue to the Berlin Food Exhibition,” in Selected Writings, Volume 2, Part 1, 1927-1930. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1999.
    Analysis of the 1928 Berlin Food Exhibition as an example of the ontological ambivalence of the more general phenomenon of “mass education,” and the pedagogical role therein played by “the Golem of Industry.” Filled with insights regarding the aesthetic import of exhibition design, on the micro-level.
  • Benjamin, Walter.
    “Garlanded Entrance,” in The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility and Other Writings on Media. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2008.
    A short review by Benjamin of a 1930 exhibit entitled “Sound Nerves,” in which he comments upon the necessary relation between distraction and education for the masses (Volksbildung).
  • Benjamin, Walter.
    “Convolute G [Exhibitions, Advertising, Grandville],” in The Arcades Project. Cambrdige, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1999.
    This convolute represents the most concentrated the most concentrated source for Benjamin’s insights regarding exhibitions, as form of advertising, as essentially related to the historical relation between art and technology/industry.
  • Brown, Julie K.
    Making Culture Visible: The Public Display of Photography at Fairs, Expositions and Exhibitions in the United States, 1847-1900. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 2001.
    Focuses upon the historically dynamic-dialogical (if not dialectical) relationship between photography and exhibitions. Key question asked: How did exhibitions exhibit photographs as objects in and of themselves, before they became media for exhibiting other objects? Brown nicely emphasizes the unique status of the photograph as an exhibition object (i.e. one that bridged art and science/technology; that bled out of those particular spaces of classification that were so integral to early Exhibitions).
  • Burris, John P.
    Exhibiting Religion: Colonialism and Spectacle at International Expositions, 1851-1893. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2001.
    A survey of early World’s Fairs (from the Great Exhibition of 1851 to the Columbian Exposition in 1893) as pivotal forums in which various religions came into contact with one another. Online preview here.
  • De Cauter, Lieven.
    “The Panoramic Ecstasy. On World Exhibitions and the Disintegration of Experience,” in The Panoramic Dream: Antwerp and the World Exhibitions, 1885, 1894, 1930. Antwerp: Bouwcentrum, 1993.
    Suggestive short essay on Exhibitions as key spaces of modernity (especially, in meta-sense, as panorama of panoramas). De Cauter’s main task is to trace, through the development of Exhibitions, the disintegration of the panoramic gaze that he associates with modernity into the vertiginous gaze of postmodernity.
  • Dalvesco, Rebecca.
    The United States Pavilion at Expo ‘67: Creative America. Doctoral Dissertation: Arizona State University, 2004.
    Detailed analysis of creation of Fuller’s dome at Expo ‘67, and manner in which it helped distract attention from Vietnam under the cloak of “Creative America.”
  • Della Coletta, Cristina.
    World’s Fairs Italian Style: The Great Exhibitions in Turin and their Narratives. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006.
    Arguing that Italy has been largely ignored by the genre of Exhibition research that’s developed over the past decade, della Coletta suggests why this omission has been significant: inasmuch as Italian Exhibitions provide ideal case studies of the relation between Exhibitions and nation-building and a view of Exhibitions as sites of contestation as opposed to one-way propaganda.
  • Eco, Umberto.
    “A Theory of Exhibitions,” in (1967) Dotzero, volume 4.
    In this now difficult to find journal, Eco places Exhibitions (with particular emphasis on Expo ’67) under the sign of “communication,” and questions what the Exhibition of the future will look like.
  • Farber, Alexa.
    “Exposing Expo: Exhibition Entrepreneurship and Experimental Reflexivity in Late Modernity,” in Macdonald, Sharon and Basu, Paul (eds.), Exhibition Experiments. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2007.
    Ethnographic study of the thematic area of Expo 2000 (Hanover) and the book product that resulted from it (Hyperorganismen), as examples of the “reflexive exhibit.”
  • Gilbert, James.
    “Fixing the Image: Photography at the World’s Columbian Exhibition,” in Harris, Neil (ed.), Grand Illusions: Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893. Chicago: Chicago Historical Society, 1993.
    Documents the battle over representation that occurred between those in charge of the official photography at the 1893 Chicao World’s Fair and the growing numbers of amateur photographers that visited the Fair (as well as the industry that armed them with cameras).
  • Gold, John Robert.
    Cities of Culture: Staging International Festivals and the Urban Agenda, 1851-2000. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, 2005.
    Centred around the simple question: why would cities want to hold Expos/Olympics/etc.? More broadly speaking, in the age of the “creative class,” how does the city benefit from culture? Not many surprises to be found (i.e. this book is firmly positioned within the creative cities camp), but it’s interesting to see Expo ’67 (for which an entire chapter is devoted) placed in the sae category of spectacle as Olympics and European Cities of Culture. Online preview here.
  • Greenberg, Reesa (ed.),
    Thinking about Exhibitions. New York: Routledge, 1996.
    Impressive and wide=ranging collection of essays on the phenomenon of exhibition. Includes landmark essays by Tony Bennet (“The Exhibitionary Complex”), Jean-Francois Lyotard (“Les Immateriaux”), Mieke Bal (“The Discourse of the Museum”) and Rosalind Krauss (“Postmodernism’s Museum Without Walls”).
  • Greenblatt, Stephen.
    “Resonance and Wonder,” in Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display. Washington: The Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991.
    Short essay distinguishing between two museum modalities: resonance and wonder. Particularly interesting given McLuhan’s assertions about Expo ’67 being example of new, non-linear kind of museum experience.
  • Greenhalgh, Paul.
    Ephemeral Vistas: The Expositions Universelles, Great Exhibitions and World’s Fairs, 1851-1939. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988.
    Fairly descriptive, but very solid, historical volume. As part of the series “Studies in Imperialism,” is focused upon the relationship between Exhibitions and Empire. The chapter titles give a sense of the experience to be had: “Origins and conceptual development;” “Funding, politics, and society;” “Imperial display;” “Human showcases;” “The national profile;” “The prefabricated and the mass-produced;” “Women: exhibited and exhibiting;” “The fine arts.”
  • Greenhalgh, Paul.
    “The Traditions of Expositions Universelles,” in The Panoramic Dream: Antwerp and the World Exhibitions, 1885, 1894, 1930. Antwerp: Bouwcentrum, 1993.
    Short and solid history of (and introduction to) World Exhibitions: what? when? who? where? how? and why?
  • Gunning, Tom.
    “The World as Object Lesson: Cinema Audiences, Visual Culture, and the St. Louis World’s Fair 1904″’ in (1994) Film History 6(4).
    Focuses on how early cinema was employed at Expo 1904 as means of ushering in new age of visual culture and, accordingly, in creating particular spectatorial practices.
  • Haddow, Robert.
    Pavilions of Plenty: Exhibiting American Culture Abroad in the 1950s. Washington: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1997.
    Focus upon International Exhibitions as means of American cultural imperialism; means to seduce European markets.
  • Harvey, Penelope.
    Hybrids of Modernity: Anthropology, the Nation State and the Universal Exhibition. London: Routledge, 1996.
    Considers the relationship between three western modernist institutions: anthropology, the nation state and the universal exhibition. Harvey looks at the ways in which these institutions are linked in their objectification culture and how they have themselves become objects (if not targets) of cultural theory. Through an analysis of the Universal Exhibition held in Seville in 1992, the themes of culture, nationality, and technology are explored.
  • Heaman, E.A..
    The Inglorious Arts of Peace: Exhibitions in Canadian Society during the Nineteenth Century. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.
    Uniquely Canada-specific. Separated intro three parts: (1) Exhibitions in Central Canada (1789-1893); (2) Canadian participation in International Exhibitions (1851-1893); (3) Exhibitions and Identities (with special focus on women and aboriginals as surplus to representations of “Canada”). Interesting theoretical chapter on historical specificity of exhibitions (as artifact of the Enlightenment; both competitive and pedagogical). Online preview here.
  • Hamon, Philippe.
    Expositions: Literature and Architecture in Nineteenth-Century France. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.
    Hamon sees the Exposition Universelle as a phenomenon where urban landscapes became stages and the culture of the image was promoted and perpetuated. “A study of the extended metaphor of exposition,” Hamon explores nineteenth-century “expositionitis” by looking at the literary representation of architecture.
  • Heller, Alfred E.
    World’s Fairs and the End of Progress: An Insider’s View. Corte Madera, Calif.: World’s Fair, Inc., 1999.
    Heller provides an introspective and personal look into the World’s Fair experience. Having attended the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition as a child, Heller has since spent his life attending and researching international Exhibitions. Some of the key themes discussed are the experiential power of Exhibitions, their historical relevance, the blurring distinction between Exhibitions and other entertainment forms, the changes that have occurred within Exhibitions over time, and what he feels future Exhibition organizers should be mindful of in the future.
  • Henning, Michelle.
    “Legibility and Affect: Museums as New Media,” in Macdonald, Sharon and Basu, Paul, Exhibition Experiments. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2007.
    Great essay that focuses upon experiments in and around museums in the 1920s and 1930s, particularly as they were designed in response to the emergence of new media technologies.
  • Highmore, Ben.
    “Machinic Magic: IBM at the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair,” in (2003-2004) New Formations 51.
    Interprets IBM exhibit at the 1964 New York World’s Fair as an example of modern magic—in which phantasmatic form of the (multi-screen) exhibit seduced a skeptical audience to new technology, in something of an erotic coupling. In process, Highmore argues for a thick formalist analysis of Exhibitions.
  • Hinsley, Curtis M.
    “The World as Marketplace: Commodification of the Exotic at the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893,” in Karp, Ivan and Lavine, Steven (eds.), Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991.
    Details attempt to develop “public anthropology” at Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893 (in regards to Expo ’67, quite interesting regarding the quasi-anthropological efforts of Labyrinth and Polar Life).
  • Hoffenberg, Peter H.
    An Empire on Display: English, Indian and Australian Exhibitions from the Crystal Palace to the Great War. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.
    Another book on relation between Empire and Exhibitions. Online preview here.
  • Kachur, Lewis.
    Displaying the Marvelous: Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, and Surrealist Exhibition Installations. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2001.
    “Surrealism in its late phase often abandoned neutral exhibition spaces in favor of environments that embodied subjective ideologies. These exhibitions offered startled viewers an early version of installation art before the form existed as such. Kachur explores this development by analyzing three elaborate Surrealist installations created between 1938 and 1942. The first two, the “Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme” (1938) and the “Dream of Venus” at the New York World’s Fair (1939), dealt with the fetishization of the female body. The third, “First Papers of Surrealism” (1942), focused not on the figure but on the entire expanse of the exhibition space, thus contributing to the development of nonfigurative art in New York. Kachur presents a full visual and verbal reconstruction of each of the exhibitions, evoking the sequence that the contemporary viewer would have encountered.”
  • McLuhan, Marshall.
    Exploration of the Ways, Means, and Values of Museum Communication with the Viewing Public: A Seminar. New York: Museum of the City of New York, 1969.
    Documentation of a seminar, held in 1967, moderated by Marshall McLuhan, Harley Parker, and Jacques Barzun. Question of impact of technology on museums, particularly inasmuch as it raised the (up-to-that-point) obscured question of “communication.”
  • Mattie, Erik.
    World’s Fairs. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998.
    An illustrated history covering all of the major (over thirty) World’s Fairs. Over thirty are examined in terms of architecture and style, beginning with the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition and ending with a prospectus of the 2000 Fair at Hanover. Includes numerous photographs and illustrations.
  • Nadis, Fred. “Nature at Aichi World’s Expo 2005,” in (2007) Technology and Culture 48(3), 575-81.
    Rather anecdotal essay, which focuses upon Expo 2005’s fated replacement of techno-celebration with an ethos of environmentalism—‘fated’ inasmuch as the result, while ethically sound, was a relative bore (and, thus, unpopular-ineffective).
  • Niquette, Manon; Buxton, William.
    “Meet Me at the Fair: Sociability and Reflexivity in Nineteenth-Century World Expositions,” in Canadian Journal of Communication, 22(1), 1997.
    The reception process of the exposition medium cannot be dissociated from the interpersonal setting in which the visitors are involved. This paper begins with a review of the studies done on sociability in museums. It shows that issues related to reflexivity, as they bear on both the properties of the medium and the relations between visitors, have been neglected. The review is followed by a study of the social experience of World’s Fair visitors in the nineteenth century, at the birth of the modern museum. This is done through a content analysis of cartoons showing visitors in interaction with one another. It is argued that the exposition medium became a space of social differentiation through linkages between three levels of reflexivity: (1) institutional reflexivity, which is related to the ways by which the exposition transforms the crowd into a self-regulating organization; (2) individual reflexivity of visitors’ interaction through which the exposition becomes a strategic space for the negotiation of self-identity; and (3) reflexive action of humour magazines, the role of which was to create categories of social interaction in public places and to reduce them to stereotypes.
  • Nye, David E.
    “Electrifying Expositions, 1880-1939,” in Rydell, Robert and Gwynn, Nancy (eds.), Fair Representations: World’s Fairs and the Modern World. Amsterdam: VU University Press, 1994.
    Nye charts four evolving stages of electrification at Exhibitions, after the initial few decades of Exhibitions based upon steam power. Education thereafter replaced by spectacle/entertainment.
  • Ogata, Amy F.
    “Viewing Souvenirs: Peepshows and the International Expositions,” in (2002) Journal of Design History 15(2).
    “This article considers how the international exposition was represented in peepshow souvenirs, folding paper devices that gave a three-dimensional view of the interior. Using Walter Benjamin’s notion of the world’s fair as a phantasmagoria, I argue that the optical souvenirs produced for international expositions reconfirmed the enchanted visual experience in a way that other mass-produced souvenirs could not and, moreover, that this held implications for both popular consumption and collective memory.”
  • Polano, Sergio.
    Mostrare: Exhibition Design in Italy from the Twenties to the Eighties. Milano: Lybra Immagine, 1988.
    Functions both as a documentary source for history of Italian exhibition design and experimentation and an interesting collection of essays on the very concept of “exhibition” itself (i.e. “mostrare” = to show).
  • Roche, Maurice.
    Mega-Events and Modernity: Olympics and Expos in the Growth of Global Culture. New York: Routledge, 2000.
    Somewhat dry text, focusing on Exhibitions as part of larger species: “the mega event” (which includes Olympics, World Cups, etc). Roche argues that studies in “event ecology” offer a privileged view into globalization.
  • Roy, Gabrielle.
    Man and his World. Montreal: Compagnie canadienne de l’Exposition universelle de 1967, 1967.
    Poetic reflections on the creation of the Expo ’67 theme in general and of the theme pavilions in particular. Valuable as document of the unified—and humanist—image that the Expo organizers wished to project. Accompanied by artsy photographs.
  • Rydell, Robert.
    Fair America: World’s Fairs in the United States. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000.
    Queries the consensus-forming function of Expos in the U.S. through four different eras: “the age of industrialism’s advance;” “the imperial era;” “between the world wars;” and “the atomic age.” Final chapter (entitled: “Cultural Dinosaurs? Worl’s Fairs and the Survival of the Species”) focuses upon the raison d’etre of post-WWII Exhibitions.
  • Rydell, Robert.
    All the World’s a Fair: Visions of Empire at American International Expositions, 1876-1916. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1984.
    Questions the ideological function of Exhibitions. Applies Berger and Luckmann’s notion of “symbolic universe” to Exhibitions, as structure of legitimation that provides meaning for social experience and establishes common frame of reference for the projection of individual actions. Online preview here.
  • Schroeder-Gudehus, Bridgette.
    Les fastes du progres: Le guide des Expositions universelles 1851-1992. Paris: Flammarion, 1992.
    For each Exhibition provides a listing of such information as cost, number of visitors, participating countries, buildings and pavilions, classification of types of exhibits, official documents and bibliography.
  • van Wesemael, Pieter.
    Architecture of Instruction and Delight: A socio-historical analysis of World Exhibitions as a didactic phenomenon (1798 – 1851 – 1970). Rotterdam: 0I0 Publishers, 2001.
    Short summary of a long (846 pp.) book: world exhibitions have always been didactic structures which, in relation to the development of communications media, have fulfilled different historical mandates. Whereas the first waves of Exhibitions were intended to familiarize educated visitors with new technological wares, and then with instructing the general public with the (global) practices of consumerism in general, the maturation of audio-visual media (which were ironically often the content of these Exhibitions) rendered Exhibitions obsolete as such sites of instruction. Thus, in its final stage, the Exhibition embraces the new audio-visual technologies and moves into a (McLuhanesque) period of “image-building”—with the intention of creating immersive experiences in which visitors are supposed to adapt to (and possibly learn to harmonize with) their new environment. Instead of Expo ’67, he (convincingly) argues that Osaka ’70 represented both the exemplary form of this last stage of Exhibition and, with its failures, the death of the Exhibition project in general. Online preview here.
  • Williams, Rosalind.
    Dream Worlds: Mass Consumption in Late Nineteenth-Century France. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.
    Focused on late nineteenth-century France as time of consumer revolution—and, in particular, on the 1900 Exposition in Paris as its crowning moment; which itself lead to a change in the nature of Expositions. Online preview here.