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The Soviet Age and Beyond
This edited volume assembles the work of leading international scholars in a comprehensive history of Russian literary theory and criticism from 1917 to the post-Soviet age. By examining the dynamics of literary criticism and theory in three arenas—political, intellectual, and institutional—the authors capture the progression and structure of Russian literary criticism and its changing function and discourse. The chapters follow early movements such as formalism, the Bakhtin Circle, Proletklut, futurism, the fellow-travelers, and the Russian Association of Proletarian Writers. By the cultural revolution of 1928, literary criticism became a mechanism of Soviet policies, synchronous with official ideology. The chapters follow theory and criticism into the 1930s with examinations of the Union of Soviet Writers, semantic paleontology, and socialist realism under Stalin. A more "humanized" literary criticism appeared during the ravaging years of World War II, only to be supplanted by a return to the party line, Soviet heroism, and anti-Semitism in the late Stalinist period. During Khrushchev's Thaw, there was a remarkable rise in liberal literature and criticism, that was later refuted in the nationalist movement of the "long" 1970s. The same decade saw, on the other hand, the rise to prominence of semiotics and structuralism. Postmodernism and a strong revival of academic literary studies have shared the stage since the start of the post-Soviet era. For the first time anywhere, this collection analyzes all of the important theorists and major critical movements during a tumultuous ideological period in Russian history, including developments in émigré literary theory and criticism.
From Earliest Times to the Present
Synthesizing several decades of scholarship by historians East and West, Barbara Evans Clements traces the major developments in the history of women in Russia and their impact on the history of the nation. Sketching lived experiences across the centuries, she demonstrates the key roles that women played in shaping Russia's political, economic, social, and cultural development for over a millennium. The story Clements tells is one of hardship and endurance, but also one of achievement by women who, for example, promoted the conversion to Christianity, governed estates, created great art, rebelled against the government, established charities, built the tanks that rolled into Berlin in 1945, and flew the planes that strafed the retreating Wehrmacht. This daunting and complex history is presented in an engaging survey that integrates this scholarship into the field of Russian and post-Soviet history.
During World War II, Hollywood studios supported the war effort by making patriotic movies designed to raise the nation’s morale. They often portrayed the combatants in very simple terms: Americans and their allies were heroes, and everyone else was a villain. Norway, France, Czechoslovakia, and England were all good because they had been invaded or victimized by Nazi Germany. Poland, however, was represented in a negative light in numerous movies. In Hollywood’s War with Poland, 1939-1945, M. B. B. Biskupski draws on a close study of prewar and wartime films such as To Be or Not to Be (1942), In Our Time (1944), and None Shall Escape (1944). He researched memoirs, letters, diaries, and memoranda written by screenwriters, directors, studio heads, and actors to explore the negative portrayal of Poland during World War II. Biskupski also examines the political climate that influenced Hollywood films.
Local Perpetrators and Soviet Responses
Silence has many causes: shame, embarrassment, ignorance, a desire to protect. The silence that has surrounded the atrocities committed against the Jewish population of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union during World War II is particularly remarkable given the scholarly and popular interest in the war. It, too, has many causes—of which antisemitism, the most striking, is only one. When, on July 10, 1941, in the wake of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, local residents enflamed by Nazi propaganda murdered the entire Jewish population of Jedwabne, Poland, the ferocity of the attack horrified their fellow Poles. The denial of Polish involvement in the massacre lasted for decades. This volume combines revised articles from the journal Kritika and previously unpublished pieces to highlight the complex interactions of prejudice, power, and publicity. It offers a probing examination of the complicity of local populations in the mass murder of Jews perpetrated in areas such as Poland, Ukraine, Bessarabia, and northern Bukovina and analyzes Soviet responses to the Holocaust. Based on Soviet commission reports, news media, and other archives, the contributors examine the factors that led certain local residents to participate in the extermination of their Jewish neighbors; the interaction of Nazi occupation regimes with various sectors of the local population; the ambiguities of Soviet press coverage, which at times reported and at times suppressed information about persecution specifically directed at the Jews; the extraordinary Soviet efforts to document and prosecute Nazi crimes and the way in which the Soviet state’s agenda informed that effort; and the lingering effects of silence about the true impact of the Holocaust on public memory and state responses.
Defining, Policing, and Producing Deviance during the Thaw
Swearing, drunkenness, promiscuity, playing loud music, brawling—in the Soviet Union these were not merely bad behavior, they were all forms of the crime of “hooliganism.” Defined as “rudely violating public order and expressing clear disrespect for society,” hooliganism was one of the most common and confusing crimes in the world’s first socialist state. Under its shifting, ambiguous, and elastic terms, millions of Soviet citizens were arrested and incarcerated for periods ranging from three days to five years and for everything from swearing at a wife to stabbing a complete stranger.
Hooligans in Khrushchev's Russia offers the first comprehensive study of how Soviet police, prosecutors, judges, and ordinary citizens during the Khrushchev era (1953–64) understood, fought against, or embraced this catch-all category of criminality. Using a wide range of newly opened archival sources, it portrays the Khrushchev period—usually considered as a time of liberalizing reform and reduced repression—as an era of renewed harassment against a wide range of state-defined undesirables and as a time when policing and persecution were expanded to encompass the mundane aspects of everyday life. In an atmosphere of Cold War competition, foreign cultural penetration, and transatlantic anxiety over “rebels without a cause,” hooliganism emerged as a vital tool that post-Stalinist elites used to civilize their uncultured working class, confirm their embattled cultural ideals, and create the right-thinking and right-acting socialist society of their dreams.
The West's CIA-Financed Secret Book Distribution Project Behind the Iron Curtain
A goldmine of previously untapped information on the untold story of the secret book distribution program financed by the CIA to Eastern Europe during the Cold War. The book program, at its height between 1957 and 1970, was one of the least known but most effective methods of penetrating the Iron Curtain, and reached thousands of intellectuals and professionals in the Soviet Bloc. Reisch conducted thorough research on the key personalities involved in the book program, especially the two key figures: S. S. Walker, who initiated the idea of a “mailing project,” and G. C. Minden, who developed the program into one of the most effective political and psychological tools of the Cold War. The book includes excellent chapters on the vagaries of censorship and interception of books by communist authorities based on personal letters and accounts from recipients of Western material. It will stand as a testimony in honor of the handful of imaginative, determined, and hard-working individuals who helped to free half of Europe from attempted mental bondage and planted many of the seeds that sprung to life when communism collapsed and the Soviet bloc disintegrated over twenty years ago.
Jewish Families in Warsaw after the Holocaust
In a turn-of-the-century, once elegant building at 16 Ujazdowskie Avenue in the center of Warsaw, 10 Jewish families began reconstructing their lives after the Holocaust. While most surviving Polish Jews were making their homes in new countries, these families rebuilt on the rubble of the Polish capital and created new communities as they sought to distance themselves from the memory of a painful past. Based on interviews with family members, intensive research in archives, and the families' personal papers and correspondence, Karen Auerbach presents an engrossing story of loss and rebirth, political faith and disillusionment, and the persistence of Jewishness.
Visual Narratives of Hungary's 1956 Revolution
Although the 1956 Hungarian uprising failed to liberate the country from Soviet domination, it became a symbol of freedom for people throughout Eastern Europe and beyond. Labeling the events a counterrevolution, communist authorities exacted revenge in two years of terror and intimidation. Then, for the next thirty years, they pursued a policy of forced forgetting, attempting to obliterate public memory of the events. As communism unraveled in the late 1980s, the 1956 revolution was resurrected as inspiration for a new political order. In Imagining Postcommunism, Beverly James demonstrates how 1956 became a foundational myth according to which the bloody events of that fall led to the ceremonial reburial of the martyred prime minister Imre Nagy in 1989, free elections in 1990, and the withdrawal of the last Soviet soldiers on June 19, 1991. She shows how museums, monuments, and holiday rituals have aided the construction of a new Hungary through the reclamation and expression of competing memories of the critical events of 1956. Surveying the dazzling array of ceremonies, exhibitions, and memorials commemorating the revolution and its heros, James invites readers to consider the difference between the communist regime’s master narrative of 1956, with its smug, false unity, and the multiple, polemical stories woven by competing political forces in postcommunist Hungary. A thoughtful application of communication and historical theories on the uses of memory, this study offers a unique perspective on a crucial episode in the history of Eastern Europe.
World War, Modern Art, and the Politics of Public Culture in Russia, 1914-1917
In this volume, international writers explore conceptualizations of what defined “East” and “West” in Eastern Europe, imperial Russia, and the Soviet Union in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The contributors analyze the effects of transnational interactions on ideology, politics, and cultural production, and reveal that the roots of an East/West cultural divide existed long before socialism and the Cold War. The chapters explore the complex stages of adoption and rejection of Western ideals in Eastern Europe in areas such as architecture, travel writing, film, music, health care, consumer products, political propaganda, and human rights. They describe a process of mental mapping whereby individuals “captured and possessed” Western identity through cultural encounters and developed their own interpretations. In response, political and intellectual elites devised strategies of resistance to defy these Western impositions. Socialists believed that their cultural forms offered morally and materially better lives for the masses, yet their attitude toward the West, however, fluctuated between a sense of superiority and inferiority. But, in material terms, Western industry and technology were the ever-present yardstick by which progress was measured. The contributors conclude that the necessities of modern life and the rise of consumerism made it impossible for communist states to meet the demands of their citizens. The West eventually won the battle of supply and demand, and thus the battle for cultural influence.