CEES public lecture by Paulina Bren, Vassar College, History.
Paulina Bren teaches at Vassar College in History, Women’s Studies, and Jewish Studies. This year she is the recipient of an NCEEER National Research Competition Grant to begin work on her third book. Her first book, The Greengrocer and His TV: The Culture of Communism after the 1968 Prague Spring (Cornell UP, 2010) won the Council for European Studies 2012 Book Prize, the Austrian Studies Association 2012 Book Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2011 Wayne S. Vucinich Book Award. Her most recent book is the co-edited volume Communism Unwrapped: Consumption in Cold War Eastern Europe (Oxford UP, 2012).
In 1955, an enormous statue of Stalin was unveiled in Prague. Measuring over 100 feet, the granite monument dominated the city’s skyline. Yet only a year later, following Khrushchev’s “secret speech,” Stalin went from hero to villain. Six years later, Prague’s statue was obliterated with 1600 pounds of explosives. Paulina Bren will talk about what came next, about the vast plinth that thereafter remained empty, about the period of history known as late communism. While much has been written about the 1950s and 1960s, the 1970s and 1980s remain largely uncharted territory for historians. How can we begin to understand late communism as a distinct era? What, if anything, was normal about this period of so-called “normalization”? Paulina Bren’s lecture will focus on the post-1968 experience in the Eastern Bloc, with an emphasis on media and material consumption, their influence on everyday life, and the shaping of a new ‘communist culture’ in the aftermath of the Prague Spring.
Sponsor(s): Center for European and Eurasian Studies
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