The increasing urbanization of late 19th and early 20th century Europe witnessed the advent of a comparatively novel social phenomenon and cultural trope: the crowd. Crowds have been represented as alienating, faceless monstrosities and as liberatingly anonymous environments of self-realization, as manipulable and as bullying. The crowd is figured as a hotbed of rumor, irrationality, madness, sedition, and communicable disease, but also as the site of transcendent super-personal experience, invention, historical progress, and the groundspring of political legitimacy. Crowds have a (statistical, social, psychological) life of their own which confronts and contrasts with the life of the individual. They confirm the flâneur in his ironic distance and insulated subjectivity even as the phenomenology of “merging with” or “melting into” the crowd challenges prevailing notions of individual identity and personal responsibility. This class will examine a variety of literary and visual representations of the crowded turn-of-the-century European metropolis in conjunction with contemporaneous psychological, sociological, and philosophical reflections on the significance of modern multitudes. Though our focal texts are historical we will also consider modulations of these themes in our present social environment of viral videos, big data, cyberbullying, targeted advertising, crowd-sourcing, and zombie movies. Texts will include works by Baudelaire, Benjamin, Freud, Kracauer, Fritz Lang, Manet, Musil, Rilke, Seurat, and Simmel.