Cold War & Public Cultures

The Cold War was arguably the longest conflict between competing nations and ideologies. Much of the combat was communicated through media and related speculation about life on the other side. While the U.S. established a new post-war economy based on consumerism and consumption, the U.S.S.R. attempted to recover from the devastating losses of the war by ramping up production. On both sides of the wall, texts, images, and other modes of performance constituted modes of action that contributed to these nations’ disparate public cultures. This course will introduce the terms of “public culture” as a means to investigate the communicative practices that both divided and linked the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. during the early part of the cold war period. Close attention will be paid to the forms of engagement between the nations—visual, textual, diplomatic—in order to better understand the relationships between power as a state sponsored discursive force and the alternative forms, however fleeting, of a resistant public agency.