Cold War Bohemia: Literary Exchange between the United States and Czechoslovakia, 1947-1989

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Cold War Bohemia: Literary Exchange between the United States and Czechoslovakia, 1947-1989

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Title: Cold War Bohemia: Literary Exchange between the United States and Czechoslovakia, 1947-1989
Author: Goodman, Brian Kruzick
Citation: Goodman, Brian Kruzick. 2016. Cold War Bohemia: Literary Exchange between the United States and Czechoslovakia, 1947-1989. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
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Abstract: After the onset of the Cold War, literature and culture continued to circulate across the so-called Iron Curtain between the United States and the countries of the Eastern bloc, often with surprising consequences. This dissertation presents a narrative history of literary exchange between the US and Czechoslovakia between 1947 and 1989. I provide an account of the material circulation of texts and discourses that is grounded in the biographical experiences of specific writers and intellectuals who served as key intermediaries between Cold War blocs. Individual chapters focus on F. O. Matthiessen, Josef Škvorecký, Allen Ginsberg, and Philip Roth, and I discuss the transmission of literary works by writers like Franz Kafka, Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, Ludvík Vaculík, and Milan Kundera. I also discuss a range of institutions—from literary magazines and book series to universities and government censors—that mediated the circulation of literature between the US and Czechoslovakia. To reconstruct this history, I draw on a multilingual archive of sources that includes transnational correspondence, secret police files, travelogues, and samizdat texts.

A central argument of “Cold War Bohemia” is that the transnational circulation of literature produced new lines of countercultural influence across the Iron Curtain. By the 1970s and 1980s, literary exchange also helped constitute a network of writers and intellectuals who promoted new discourses about the relationship between literature, dissent, and human rights. The literary counterculture that emerged between the US and Czechoslovakia took on many local and contingent forms, but in each case, the circulation of literature allowed a new transnational public to imagine an alternative world beyond Cold War boundaries.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33493571
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