Eng 429/598; SLC 429/598

politics and culture in european short fiction

SPRING semester




Course Reading List

The lines of difference marking the diverse and fascinating discourses of East Central European cultures before and after the end of Soviet hegemony animate and legitimize the Other Europe. It is no longer possible today to speak of Czechoslovak or Serbo-Croatian literature. Political changes of the past decade, specifically the memorable events of 1988-1991, have revealed not only the unresolved variations and contradictions within a region once viewed as monolithic; they have also generated the emerging field of Post-Totalitarian Cultural Studies. In recent years Slovaks have decided to create an independent cultural identity, while the present divisions in the former Yugoslavia have a much longer history. Most Serbs are Greek Orthodox and use the Cyrillic script, whereas Croats are Roman Catholic and use the Latin alphabet. Although the languages of the two nations are closely related, any story by Ivo Andric (the 1975 Nobel Prize recipient) will quickly show just how much their cultural traditions differ. My point, of course, is that while embroiled in the transitional period after the collapse of communism in Central Eastern Europe, these nations and cultures (Albanians, Bulgarians, Czechs, Croats, Hungarians, Macedonians, Poles, Romanians, Russians, Slovaks, Slovenes) have emerged as vibrant and independent states, which define themselves within and beyond traditional dichotomies of cultural otherness and whose traditions and cultures do not match up with those of the West, particularly because of the long absence of interregional and cross-disciplinary studies in those regions.