Cold War Culture: Literature, Film and Theory in Cold War Europe
Spring 2015 Erica Sheen
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
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
Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, ‘Plan of the Present
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
Introduction to Jürgen Habermas, theory of the public
Hannah Arendt, excerpt, The Human Condition (1958)
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)