Hist 74201 The Politics of Everyday Life: Material Culture and the Built Environment East and West

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HIST 74201

The Politics of Everyday Life:

Material Culture and the Built Environment East and West
Instructors: Leora Auslander and Sheila Fitzpatrick

Tuesdays, 1:30-4:15

Harper Memorial 102
Leora Auslander


Office: Harper Memorial West, 608
Sheila Fitzpatrick


Office: SS 511

This course is designed to address the question of the nature of everyday life in Eastern and Western Europe from the Russian Revolution of 1917 through the post-1989 period. Most broadly, we are interested in likenesses and differences in everyday life and in the conceptualization, design, meaning, and use of things and of the built environment between capitalist and non-capitalist societies in these crucial years of the 20th century.  We will start with an analysis of concepts of “cultural revolution” and their utility in discussing the politics of everyday life in these two systems, followed by a discussion of some key theoretical texts on everyday life and material culture. Subsequent weeks will engage questions of the shaping of desire (including popular culture and advertisements), town planning and architectural design and construction, the selling and acquiring of goods (including “conventional shopping,” rationing, the black market, and gifts), and the use of objects and space once acquired. Close attention will be paid to the effect of war (hot and cold) and to transnational interactions and influences.
This is a two-quarter research seminar. The fall term may, however, be taken as a free-standing colloquium. There is no language requirement for the fall. Those planning to write a research paper in the winter quarter are expected to be able to efficiently conduct research in the languages needed for their area of specialty.

  1. Seminar and colloquium students: 3 special reports, oral and written (5 minute oral presentation, 3-5 pages). Some of these special report texts are single articles, some pairs, some books – please be sure to put some of each on your list of preferences. Ideally you should choose one reading from Eastern Europe, one from Western, and one theoretical.

  1. Colloquium students: Term paper (research or historiographical), 15-20 pages. Topic statements should be emailed by November 6.

  1. Seminar students: a) One page thought piece on possible research paper topic, followed by a meeting with one instructor or the other. Topic statements should be emailed by November 6. b) Short paper proposal and bibliography December 8.

The course is open to non-history students and students from other disciplines are welcome.

Suggested texts (in Seminary Coop)

Ian Woodward, Understanding Material Culture

Leora Auslander, Cultural Revolutions

Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism

The first three sessions of the course will address the three key concepts of the seminar: cultural revolution, everyday life and material culture.
The session on cultural revolution introduces the relation between culture, everyday life and politics as it was understood in the European context.
The sessions on everyday life and material culture will present readings that analyze the dynamics of everyday life and the meanings of things under communism and capitalism, once the revolutionary moment had passed.

WEEK 1: September 29. Introduction: Cultural Revolution
Leora Auslander, “Introduction,” and either chapter 2, 3, or 4 of Cultural Revolutions
Michael David-Fox, “What is Cultural Revolution?” with comments by Sheila Fitzpatrick and Michael David-Fox, The Russian Review 58 (April 1999), 181-211
WEEK 2: October 6. The everyday in the 20th century
Henri Lefebvre, “Introduction,” in his Critique of everyday life, trans. John Moore
Michel de Certeau, “General Introduction,” in The Practice of Everyday Life.
René Fülöp-Miller, The Mind and Face of Bolshevism [1927] (”The Revolutionizing of Everyday Life,” pp. 185-222)
Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism, 1-13, 218-27
Special reports:
Richard Stites, Revolutionary Dreams. Utopian vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution (ch. 9: “Utopia in Space: City and Building,” 190-204); ch. 10: “Utopia in Life: The Communal Movement” 204-22). Ross Wolfe
Kristin Ross, Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture (Cambridge: MIT, 1995) Natalja Czarnecki
Ben Highmore, Everyday Life and Cultural Theory: An Introduction, ch. 6: “Mass-Observation: A Science of Everyday Life” (75-112) Novella Elam
Alf Lüdtke, ed. The History of Everyday Life (Intro, 3-40, Lüdtke on workers 198-251, Niethammer on GDR, 252-311 Kristy Ironside
Sheila Fitzpatrick and Alf Lüdtke, “Energizing the Everyday: On the Breaking and Making of Social Bonds in Nazism and Stalinism,” in Geyer and Fitzpatrick, ed., Beyond Totalitarianism David Chrisinger

WEEK 3: October 13. Goods in capitalism and socialism
1. A general theory of things?
Ian Woodward, Understanding Material Culture, chs. 1-2, 3, 5
Leora Auslander, “Beyond Words,” American Historical Review, 110/4 (October, 2005) 1015-1045.
Katherine Verdery, What was Socialism and What comes Next?, pp. 19-30
Special reports
Sheila Fitzpatrick, “Becoming Cultured. Socialist Realism and the Representation of Taste and Privilege,” in Fitzpatrick, The Cultural Front, 216-37


Milena Veenis, 1999. Consumption in East Germany: The Seduction and Betrayal of Things, Journal of Material Culture 4:1, 79-112. Tara di Trolio

Lewis Siegelbaum, Cars for Comrades. The Life of the Soviet Automobile Aidan Beatty
Jean Baudrillard, chs. 1 and 2 from his Selected Writings, ed. Mark Poster Danny Fittante

Rosemary Joyce, “Heirlooms and Houses: Materiality and Social Memory” in Joyce, Rosemary A. and Susan D. Gillesspie, eds. Beyond kinship : social and material reproduction in house societies


Michael Brian Schiffer with Andrea R. Miller, The Material Life of Human Beings: Artifacts, Behavior, and Communication , ch. 1. Maura Capps

Caroline Humphrey, “Creating a Culture of disillusionment: consumption in

Moscow, a chronicle of changing times,” in Daniel Miller, ed. Worlds Apart:

Modernity through the prism of the local, pp. 43-68


Olga Shevchenko, “`Between the Holes’: Emerging Identities and Hybrid Patterns of Consumption in Post-socialist Russia,” Europe-Asia Studies 54:6 (2002), 841-66 Nina Arutyunyan

Arjun Appadurai, “Consumption, Duration, and History,” ch. 4 in his Modernity at Large, pp.66-88.


Igor Kopytoff, "The cultural biography of things: commoditization as process," in Arjun Appadurai, ed. The Social Life of Things Alice Brown

This section of the course will address modes of creating and/or shaping people’s need for things. We will focus on definitions of “culturedness” and the creation and reproduction of “national taste” in both Eastern and Western Europe.
WEEK 4: October 20. National Taste between the State and the Market:

Exhibitions and Advertisements
Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism, pp.  67-95
Randi Cox, “`All This Can be Yours!’ Soviet Advertising and the Socialist construction of Space, 1928-1956,” in Evgenii Dobrenko and Eric Naiman, eds., Landscape of Stalinism: the Art and Ideology of Soviet Space (Seattle, 2003), 125-62
Leora Auslander, Taste and Power, ch. 10.


Herman Lebovics, Mona Lisa’s Escort, ch. 6.

Julia Sneeringer, “The Shopper as Voter: Women, Advertising and Politics in Post-Inflation Germany, “ German Studies Review, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Oct., 2004), pp. 476-501.
Special Reports
Catriona Kelly, Refining Russia. Advice Literature, Polite Culture, and Gender from Catherine to Yeltsin, chs. 4-5 Shirley Yeung
Jukka Gronow, Caviar with Champagne Natalja Czarnecki
Vera Dunham, In Stalin’s Time. Middleclass Values in Soviet Fiction Kristy Ironside
Stephen L. Harp, Marketing Michelin: Advertising and Cultural Identity in Twentieth-Century France Tara di Trolio
Shanny Peer, France on Display: Peasants, Provincials, and Folklore in the 1937 Paris World's Fair Hua Liu
Marjorie A. Beale, The Modernist Enterprise Phillip Henry
Paul Betts, The Authority of Everyday Objects: A Cultural History of West German Industrial Design
Week 5: October 27. Responding to the American/Western Threat/Promise:

Culturedness,” National Identity, and Good Taste
Vadim Volkov, “The Concept of Kul’turnost’,” in Fitzpatrick, ed., Stalinism: New Directions, pp. 210-230
Ellen Furlough, “Selling the American Way in Interwar France: Prix Uniques and the Salons des Arts Ménagers,” Journal of Social History 26, no. 3 (Spring 1993): 491-519
Greg Castillo, “Domesticating the Cold War: Household Consumption as Propaganda in Marshall Plan Germany,” Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 40, No. 2 (April, 2005), pp. 261-288.
Susan Reid, “Cold War in the Kitchen: Gender and the Destalinization of Consumer Taste in the Soviet Union under Khrushchev,” Slavic Review 61:2 (2002), pp. 211-52
Special Reports
Richard Kuisel, Seducing the French: The Dilemma of Americanization Novella Elam
Victoria de Grazia, The Irresistible Empire: America’s Advance through Twentieth-Century Europe Sarah Jones Weicksel
Uta Poigert, Jazz. Rock and Rebels: Cold War Politics and American Culture in a Divided Germany (2000) Sam Casper
Andre Steiner, “ Dissolution of the “Dictatorship over Needs”: Consumer Behavior and Economic Reform in East Germany in the 1960s,” in Getting and Spending


Mark Landsman, “The Consumer Supply Lobby: Did it Exist? State and Consumption in East Germany in the 1950s,” Central European History, Vol. 35, No. 4 (2002), pp. 477-512. Dana Immertreu

“Consumers exiting socialism,” Ethnos 67:3 (2002) (articles by Fehervary et al on Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union) Nina Arutyunyan

Section three analyzes the transformations in modes of selling and acquiring over the course of the twentieth century in both socialist and capitalist regimes. Department stores, chain stores, cooperatives (in both the Soviet and Western usages) will be discussed, as well as the implications of shortages and rationing for the meanings of goods.
WEEK 6: November 3. Transformations in “Conventional” Shopping
The twentieth century saw radical changes in how people shop in both socialist

and capitalist regimes. This week’s readings assess the salience of forms of

distribution for consumers’ experience of goods.
Julie Hessler, “Cultured Trade: the Stalinist turn towards consumerism” in Fitzpatrick,
Stalinism: New Directions, pp. 182-209
David Crowley, “Warsaw’s Shops, Stalinism and the Thaw,” in Reid and Crowley eds., Style and Socialism, pp. 25-48.
Judd Stitziel, "Shopping, Sewing, Networking, Complaining" in Katherine Pence and Paul Betts' Socialist Modern pp. 253-86 and one other from this volume.
Victoria de Grazia, “Changing Consumption Regimes in Europe, 1930-1970:

Comparative Perspectives on the Distribution Problem”  in Getting and Spending, edited by Susan Strasser, Charles McGovern and Matthias Judt, pp. 59-84

Ellen Furlough, “French Consumer Cooperation, 1885-1930: From the ‘Third Pillar’ of Socialism to ‘A Movement for All Consumers,” in Consumers Against Capitalism?, eds. Furlough and Carl Strikwerda, pp. 173-190.
Special reports:
Marjorie L. Hilton, “Retailing the Revolution: The State Department Store (GUM) and Soviet Society in the 1920s,” Journal of Social History, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Summer, 2004), 939-964.


idem., “The Customer is always Wrong: Consumer Complaint in late-NEP Russia,” Russian Review 68:1(2009), 1-25 Ross Wolfe

Rachel Bowlby, Carried Away: The Invention of Modern Shopping, chs. 8-9 Phillip Henry
Anne Nesbet, “Emile Zola, Kozintsev and Trauberg, and Film as Department Store,” Russian Review 68:1 (2009), 101-21 Sam Casper
Geoffrey Crossick and Serge Jaumain eds. Cathedrals of consumption read their essay and choose one other in their edited volume. David Chrisinger
Michel de Certeau, Luce Giard and Pierre Mayol, The Practice of Everyday Life vol 2: Living and Cooking, chs. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Shirley Yeung

WEEK 7: November 10. Rationing, Black Markets and Blat, the Economy of the Gift

The entire Soviet period was characterized by a shortage of consumer goods as

were the wartime and the immediate postwar periods in the West. This week’s

reading looks at state efforts to control access to goods, systems of

“informal” exchange, and the economy of gifts.
Lynne Taylor "The Black Market in Occupied France, 1940-1944,"  Contemporary European History, Vol. 6, 2, July 1997, pp. 153-176.
Daniel Miller, “Alienable Gifts and Inalienable Commodities,” in The Empire of Things: Regime of Value and Material Culture, ed. Fred R. Myers, pp. 91-118.
Caroline Humphrey and Stephen Hugh-Jones, “Introduction: Barter, exchange and value” in their Barter, exchange and value: An Anthropological Approach
Jeffrey Brooks, Thank You, Comrade Stalin! Ch. 4 on the economy of the gift)
James Heinzen, “The Art of the Bribe: Corruption and Everyday Practice in the late Stalinist USSR,” Slavic Review 66:3 (2007), 389-412
Special reports
Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov and Olga Sosnina, “The Faculty of Useless Things: Gifts to Soviet Leaders,” in Klaus Heller and Jan Plamper, eds., Personality Cults in Stalinism


Sigrid Rausing, “Signs of the new nation: gift exchange, consumption and aid on a former collective farm in north-west Estonia,” in Daniel Miller, ed. Material cultures: Why Some Things Matter, pp.189-214. Aidan Beatty

Elena Osokina, Our Daily Bread Danny Fittante
Bribery and Blat in Russia, ed. Stephen Lovell, A.Ledeneva, A. Rogachevskii Novella Elam

Caroline Humphrey, Unmaking of Soviet Life, chs. 1, 4-6 Alice Brown

Dominique Veillon, Fashion under the Occupation Maura Capps
Paul Sanders, Histoire du marché noir, 1940-1946 Hua Liu
Section four focuses on people’s use of goods after their acquisition. Under what circumstances is the the use of goods important to the constitution of self and of groups? When and how can they be put to political use?
WEEK 8: November 17. Identity Construction/Display—Subcultures, Youth and Otherwise
Western theorists of consumerism often define the period of “mass consumption”

as the moment when people come to construct (or at least represent) their social identity through consumption as much as through production. In a mass consumer society, in other words, one’s identity is largely constituted by what own owns (rather than by what one does for a living). This week’s readings will assess this definition and its implications in socialist regimes.

Woodward, Understanding Material Culture, ch. 6
Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction:  A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, introduction and chapter 1.
Mark Edele, "Strange Young Men in Stalin's Moscow: The Birth and Life of the Stiliagi, 1945-1953," Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 50 (2002), 37-61.
Leora Auslander, “’Jewish Taste’? Jews, and the aesthetics of everyday life in Paris and Berlin, 1933-1942,” in Rudy Koshar, ed. Histories of Leisure, pp. 299-318.
Special reports:
Mary Neuburger, “The Citizen Behind the Veil:National imperatives and the Re-dressing of Muslim Women,” in Reid and Crowley, eds., Style and Socialism, pp. 169-88


Leora Auslander, “Bavarian Crucifixes and French Headscarves” in Cultural Dynamics 12(3) 2000) : 283-309. Hua Liu

Vasily Aksenov, Ticket to the Stars Dana Immertreu
Victor. Pelevin, Homo Zapiens (Generation `P’) Kristy Ironside
Jann Matlock, "Masquerading Women, Pathologized Men: Cross-Dressing, Fetishism, and the Theory of Perversion, 1882-1935," in Fetishism as Cultural Discourse eds. Emily Apter and William Pietz (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, ) 31-61.


Mary Louise Roberts, “Samson and Delilah revisited: The Politics of Women’s Fashions in 1920s France,” American Historical Review 98, no. 3 (June 1993): 657-84. Sarah Jones Weicksel

Nancy Reagin, “Comparing Apples and Oranges: Housewives and the Politics of Consumption in Interwar Germany,” Getting and Spending


Michael Wildt, “Changes in Consumption as a Social Practice in 1950s West Germany,” in Getting and Spending, pp. 301-316 Tara di Trolio


All states regulate housing by, at a minimum, granting or denying building

permits. Some perceive a strong state interest (and right) in the aesthetics of

domestic architecture, while others leave such matters to the market. From the

dwellers’ point of view, housing, whether owned or rented, often represents the

single largest expense, and a scarcity of housing has characterized Europe in the

20th century. But people have also used the acquisition and decoration of their

homes as a means of self-expression and collective identity. Dwelling is thus an

deal site at which to study the intersection of state, market and consumer practice.
WEEK 9: November 27. The Provision of Dwellings: Urban Planning and Design
Lynne Attwood, “Housing in the Khrushchev Era,” in Women in the Khrushchev Era, eds. Melanie Ilič, Susan E. Reid and Lynne Attwood, 177-202
Paul Betts, "Building socialism at Home: the Case of East German Interiors" in Katherine Pence and Paul Betts, eds., Socialist Modern: East German Everyday Culture and Politics
Steve Harris, “The Making of the Soviet Separate Apartment”
Wolfgang Sonne, “Specific Intentions - General Realities: On the relation between urban forms and political aspirations in Berlin during the twentieth century.” Planning Perspectives 2004 19(3): 283-310.
Rosemary Wakeman, “Planning Paris,” in her The Heroic city : Paris, 1945-1958


Tyler Stovall, “From Red Belt to Black Belt: Race, Class, and Urban Marginality in Twentieth-Century Paris,” in Sue Peabody and Tyler Stovall, The Color of Liberty: Histories of Race in France, pp. 351-370.

Special reports:
Jeffrey, M. Diefendorf, chs. 5-9 in his In the Wake of War: the Reconstruction of German Cities after World War II Sam Casper
Vladimir Paperny, Architecture in the Age of Stalin. Culture Two Phillip Henry
Paul Rabinow, French Modern, chs 8, 9, and 10 Shirley Yeung
Michael Pittaway, “Stalinism, Working-Class Housing, and Individual Autonomy: The Encouragement of Private House Building in Hungary’s Mining Areas, 1950-1954,” in Reid and Crowley, eds., Style and Socialism, pp. 49-64


Iurii Gerchuk, “The Aesthetics of Everyday Life in the Khrushchev Thaw in the USSR (1954-64),” in Reid and Crowley eds., Style and Socialism, pp. 81-100. Ross Wolfe

Rosemary Wakeman, Modernizing the provincial city : Toulouse, 1945-1975 Natalja Czarnecki
Gwendolyn Wright, The Politics of Design in French Colonial Urbanism Dana Immertreu
K. F. Fischer, “Berlin - Myth and Model: On the Production of German Planning Ideology in Berlin,” Planning Perspectives 1990 5(1): 85-93.


John Robert Mullin, . “City Planning in Frankfurt, Germany, 1925-1932: A

Study in Practical Utopianism.” Journal of Urban History 1977 4(1): 3-28. David Chrisinger
Week 10: December 1. The Meanings and uses of Home

(This week’s reading may be reduced by a piece or two)

David Crowley, “Warsaw Interiors: The Public Life of Private Spaces, 1949-65,” in David Crowley and Susan E. Reid, ed., Socialist Spaces. Sites of Everyday Life in the Eastern Bloc, 181-206
Svetlana Boym, Common Places, pp. 121-67.
Susan E. Reid, “The Meaning of Home: `The Only Bit of the World You can have to Yourself,” in Lewis Siegelbaum, ed., Borders of Socialism Private Spheres of Soviet Russia, 145-70
Sophie Chevalier, “The French Two-Home Project: Materialization of Family Identity” and Celine Rosselin, “The Ins and Outs of the Hall: A Parisian Example,” both in Irene Cierraad, ed. At home : an anthropology of domestic space.
Rosemary Wakeman, “Reconstruction and the Self-Help Housing Movement: The French Experience,” Housing Studies, vol. 14, no. 3 (1999), 355-366.

Special reports:
Leora Auslander,  “Coming Home? Jews in Postwar Paris,” Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 40, No. 2(2005): 237-259.


Miriam Ben-Yoseph Longing for home : displacement, memory, and identity in Ben-Yoseph and Mechthild Hart Psychological, political, and cultural meanings of home. Aidan Beatty

Penelope Lively, A House Unlocked Alice Brown
Stephen Lovell, Summerfolk. A History of the Dacha (Soviet and post-Soviet sections) Nina Arutyunyan
.Steven E. Harris, “`I know all the Secrets of my Neighbors’: the Quest for Privacy in the Era of the Separate Apartment,” in Lewis H. Siegelbaum, ed., Borders of Socialism. Private spheres of Soviet Russia


K. Gerasimova, “Public Privacy in the Soviet Communal Apartment” in David Crowley and Susan E. Reid, ed., Socialist Spaces. Sites of Everyday Life in the Eastern Bloc Sarah Jones Weicksel

Georges Perec, Life a User’s Manual, trans. David Bellos  Maura Capps
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Eugene Rochberg-Halton, The meaning of things: Domestic symbols and the self chs. 3 and 5. Danny Fittante

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