Colloquia Series

From the Nazis to ISIS: A Historical Analysis of Technology and Propaganda

Watch Recording

October 6

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

7–8:30 PM

Presented by Penn College faculty, Katrina Sinclair.

Through video, radio, broadcast, and newspaper the Nazi Party, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, successfully convinced ordinary Germans to embrace his nationalist and racist ideology, leading the world into one of the most horrific and devastating events of the 20th century, World War II. While the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) has yet to emerge on the scale equal to the Nazis, the quickness and relative ease with which ISIS has captured portions of the Levant in the Middle East provides a timely comparison to the rise of Adolf Hitler. As the Nazi’s used film and radio to broadcast propaganda, ISIS uses social media outlets such as YouTube and Twitter.

Join Dr. Katrina Sinclair in a comparative discussion that poses the question of how a minority, fringe group is able to use technology to capture enough political and social legitimacy to effectively control a nation state, or in the case of ISIS, a large swath of geographical territory. The audience will be challenged to consider the ways in which technology can be used for both good and bad purposes, and to explore society’s role in diminishing the power and momentum of such propaganda movements in the future.


  • Bach, Steven. Leni: The Life and Works of Leni Riefenstahl. New York: Vintage Books, 2007.
  • Massaquoi, Hans J. Destined to Witness: Growing up Black in Nazi Germany. New York: Harper Perennial, 1999.
  • Callimachi, Rukmini. “ISIS and the Lonely Young American.” The New York Times, June 27, 2015.
  • Fairfield, Hannah; Wallace, Tim; Watkins, Derek. “How ISIS Expands.” New York Times, Accessed August 27, 2015.
  • Wood, Graeme. “What ISIS Really Wants.” The Atlantic, March 2015.

Penn College faculty: Katrina Sinclair