Artists and Power: Eastern European Literature and Film from 1945 to 1991
During the Cold War, the highly diverse region of Eastern Europe was largely united by a common political allegiance to the USSR. The oppressive politics of the Eastern Bloc regimes meant that artists were frequently compelled to respond to political pressure in their works. This situation has been interpreted according to the logic of the Cold War: artists were either courageous dissidents who opposed the regime or brainwashed conformists. In this course we will consider examples that conform to this frame--literature and film of political reform as well as models of Socialist Realism. In addition, however, we will also consider works of self-reflection, escapism, and every-day life under Socialism, in order to arrive at a more complete understanding of the cultural history of the era. The course will include literature and film produced by artists from Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. All readings will be in English.