History of Advertising

Charles University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    History of Advertising

  • Host University

    Charles University

  • Location

    Prague, Czech Republic

  • Area of Study

    Advertising, Communication Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course description & objectives:

    Advertising is usually and widely regarded and examined as a tool of consumer culture of the past two centuries, development of which is intimately linked to the rise of capitalism and global market. Whilst partially true, this approach is somehow reductionist and fails to recognize the original sense of advertising. Therefore, this course aims at a broader definition of advertising as the “art of attraction and seduction”, which is de facto as old as humankind. It understands and shows advertising as a multi-faceted and complex phenomenon, deeply rooted in existential condition of human being, that is always already posited in a certain place, time and situation (M. Heidegger), and thus it is inevitably intentional and relational (E. Husserl). As such, human being is essentially open to advertising, becoming both active subject (advertiser) and passive object of the advertising process (recipient).

    In this broad sense, advertising can be seen as a means of communication, based on human self-understanding in specific psychic, social, cultural and historical conditions. It embraces all fields of human existence, where the interplay between “subjective” and “objective” takes place. It is an art of encoding and decoding symbols. It is a cornerstone of our identity-building, outer expression of our individuality, way of life and existence among other fellow-humans. A successful advertiser has to be well aware of these sub-conscious processes, be able to analyze them properly, make use of them in order to generate feelings and imitate satisfaction of needs deeply rooted in human nature. He or she has to be skilled in cultural studies, symbolic language (semiotics) and philosophical anthropology.

    History of Advertising follows the historical development of advertising since ancient civilizations till the 21st century. It reflects both major shifts in the form (sculptures and wall paintings, posters, clothing, music and street cries, rhetoric, signs and seals, printed leaflets, books, magazines and newspaper, radio, movies, television, outdoor advertisements, internet and the new media) and the contents (ideas, products, services, policies, people) and seeks to analyze both in the social and historical context of the day.

    The theoretical part of the study is always followed by discussion and workshop, in which students are going to apply the theoretical knowledge in practice. Students will have the opportunity to prepare their own advertising projects. Every student will become owner of a fictive enterprise and traveling through centuries of human history he or she will create various advertisements of his company accordingly to the advertising methods of the day. Students will be given the opportunity to explore various advertising methods, discuss their pros and cons, use their skills and imagination and improve their ability to communicate various ideas and products through symbolic language and creative story-telling. The course is very much discussion and cooperation-based with papers and presentations as final projects.


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