Cold War Culture: Literature, Film and Theory in Cold War Europe Spring 2015 Erica Sheen



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Cold War Culture: Literature, Film and Theory in Cold War Europe

Spring 2015
Erica Sheen

erica.sheen@york.ac.uk

Module description

Writing in the new journal Hollywood Quarterly in the immediate aftermath of World War 2, American writer John Howard Lawson observed that ‘one of the first casualties of the conflict was the ‘myth’ of ‘entertainment cinema’. ‘What part,’ he asked, ‘will the motion picture play … in the creation of new patterns of world culture and understanding?’


Within two years, this optimistic anticipation of a new international order had given way to the anxieties of the Cold War. In Europe in particular, writers and filmakers struggled to find new styles and languages of film, literature and critical theory that could respond to the realities of life under the shadow of the bomb. In this module we will read and watch films, novels, screenplays, critical and theoretical writing that engage with that struggle. We will consider texts from the central European Cold War ‘theatre’ – mainly France, Germany, Italy, England, but with some reference to Scandinavia, the USSR, and the USA – and try to discover the ‘new patterns of world culture and understanding’ that emerge from their common and contrasting social, political and intellectual agendas.
Aims and objectives:

  • To introduce the advanced study of the new cinemas of Cold War Europe
  • To explore the historical, cultural and intellectual interrelations between these cinemas and contemporaneous European literary and critical cultures

  • To place these interrelations in the context of the social and political reconstruction of post-war Europe and the rise of the Cold War

  • To develop an appropriate critical, historical and theoretical framework for the analysis of individual literary, film and critical texts

  • To develop individual and collaborative skills of argument and presentation



Subject content
  • The textual and contextual analysis of post-war European film, literature and theory; a grasp of the formal and technical questions raised by individual texts; an understanding of the broader aesthetic and political implications of these issues; a grasp of the critical field currently engaged in this area of research



Academic and graduate skills

  • The capacity to identify relevant models of critical and theoretical analysis and to use them to produce sophisticated textual and contextual creadings; the ability to carry on individual research in this field, to present it in seminars and to discuss it with seminar members


Programme of study
Background reading

Tom Buchanan: Europe’s Troubled Peace

Robert J McMahon: The Cold War: A Very Short Introduction


  • Please consider buying Buchanan’s book – perhaps to share with someone else? – and work your way through it across the course of the module. Available from Amazon from around £16.00.

  • I have a several copies of McMahon which I will make available at the start of term.


Week-by-week schedule

All weekly reading will be available at the start of term either in the module Dropbox or online.
You may choose to buy the following novels:

Graham Greene, The Third Man

John Le Carré, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Heinrich Böll, The Lost Honour of Katerina Blum

Stanislav Lem, Solaris

Carlo Levi, Christ Stopped at Eboli



Week 2 Bicycle Thieves (De Sica 1948)

La terra trema (Visconti 1949)

Excerpts from Verga, La Malavoglia ( Dropbox)

Marx on alienated labour (Dropbox)

Georg Lukàcs, The Meaning of Contemporary Realism,

Chapter 1 (Dropbox)

Cesare Zavattini, ‘Some Ideas on the Cinema’ from La revista



cinema italiano (1952) (Dropbox).

Week 3 Graham Greene, The Third Man (1949)



The Third Man (Carol Reed 1949)

Adam Piette, The Literary Cold War. 1945 to Vietnam

Edinburgh, 2009), Introduction and Chapter 1

(Dropbox)


Mitchell Breitwieser, ‘Materializing Calloway: The Sorrows

of Occupation in The Third Man’ in The Hopkins



Review, Vol 1, No 3, Summer 2008 (Project Muse)
Anne-Marie Scholz , ‘”Eine Revolution des Films” : The Third

Man (1949), The Cold War and Alternatives to

Nationalism and Coca-colonization in Europe’ in Film &

History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and

Television Studies, Vol. 31, No. 1 (2001) (Project Muse)
Week 4 The Silence (Bergman 1963)

Alphaville (Godard 1965)

Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘Existentialism is a humanism’ (1946)



http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/sartre/works/exist/sartre.htm
Martin Heidegger, ‘Letter on Humanism’ (1949)

https://archive.org/stream/HeideggerLetterOnhumanism1949/Heidegger-LetterOnhumanism1949#page/n0/mode/2up
Roland Barthes, Mythologies (1957) (Dropbox)

Allen Thiher, ‘Postmodern Dilemmas: Godard's Alphaville

and Two or Three Things That I Know about Her’ in

boundary 2 Vol. 4. no. 3 (1976) (JSTOR)
Week 5 The Battle of Algiers (Pontecorvo 1966)

Michel Foucault: ‘Of Other Spaces: Utopias and

Heterotopias’ (1967) (Dropbox)
Week 6 Reading Week
Week 7 Dr Strangelove (Kubrick 1964)

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Ritt 1965)

John Le Carré: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, ‘Plan of the Present

Work’ (Dropbox)


Week 8 Fear Eats The Soul (Fassbinder 1974)

Heinrich Böll, The Lost Honour of Katerina Blum



The Lost Honour of Katerina Blum (Schlöndorff and Von Trotta

1975)
Introduction to Jürgen Habermas, theory of the public

sphere (Dropbox)

Hannah Arendt, excerpt, The Human Condition (1958)

(Dropbox)
Week 9 La jetée (Marker 1962)

2001 (Kubrick 1968)

Solaris (Tarkovsky 1972)

Stanislav Lem, Solaris (excerpts, Dropbox)

Jacques Derrida, ‘No apocalypse, not now, full speed

ahead….’ in Diacritics Vol. 14 No. 2 (1984) (JSTOR)


Week 10 Carlo Levi, Christ Stopped at Eboli (1945) (Dropbox)

Christ Stopped at Eboli ( Rosi 1979)
Cold War Culture - general research bibliography (not necessarily in the York University Library).
Baudrillard, Jean, The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures (London, 1970).

Caute, David, The Dancer Defects: the Struggle for Cultural Supremacy during the Cold War (Oxford 2005)

Goodchild, Peter, Edward Teller: The Real Dr. Strangelove (London, 2004).

Hammond, Andrew, Cold War Literature. Writing the Global Conflict (London, 2005).

Horkheimer, Max and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment (London, 1997).

Kuisel, Richard F., Seducing the French: The Dilemma of Americanization (Berkeley: 1993).

Leffler, Melvyn and Odd Arne Westad, eds., The Cambridge History of the Cold War (Cambridge, 2010), 3 vols.

Nadel, Alan, Containment Culture: American Narratives, Postmodernism and the Atomic Age (Duke: 1996)

Nehring, Holger 'What was the Cold War?', English Historical Review, 127 (2012), 920-949.

Piette, Adam, The Literary Cold War. 1945 to Vietnam (Edinburgh, 2009).

Russell, Bertrand, The Impact of Science on Society (London, 1952).

Saunders, Frances Stonor, Who Paid the Piper?: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War (London, 1999).

Schissler, Hanna (ed.), The Miracle Years: A Cultural History of West Germany, 1949-1968 (Princeton: PUP, 2001).

Seed, David, American Science Fiction and the Cold War (Edinburgh,1999).

Vowinckel, Annette, Markus M. Payk and Thomas Lindenberger, eds., Cold War Cultures: Perspectives on Eastern and Western European Societies (New York, 2011).

Whitfield, Stephen J., The Culture of the Cold War (Baltimore, 1991)



Williams, Rhys (ed.), German Writers and the Cold War, 1945-1961 (Manchester, 1992).

Zhdanov, A., On Literature, Music and Philosophy (London, 1950).


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