Poland, Slubice / Frankfurt (Oder)

From Stalinism to Pepsi-Cola. European Pop Culture in the Twentieth Century

when 9 June 2014 - 18 July 2014
duration 6 weeks

Despite the emergence of cultural history as a major field of historical analysis, it has been difficult for students to grasp how cultural artifacts and their authors affect historical change. As the recent death of Václav Havel and Nelson Mandela clearly show, political leaders’ and dissidents’ role in altering history is easily understood. But particularly in the case of communism—where authorities controlled not only cultural policy but the secret police apparatus—students do not understand the impact of the “little things” like mini-skirts or filter cigarettes. If the Trabant was so important, how did it lead to revolution?
This seminar focuses on pop culture in East and West Europe. It is designed as both an overview of post-War European cultural history, as well as an in depth analysis of cultural artifacts. The seminar is designed as being part lecture and part practical seminar. We will read and discuss secondary literature on cultural history, but particularly focus on source analysis. We will “get our hands dirty” through discussion of music, newspaper articles, cartoons, etc. Students will be expected by the end of the seminar to choose their own cultural artifact for analysis. The seminar is also in conjunction with an international workshop scheduled for July at the Center for Interdisciplinary Polish Studies. At the conclusion of our seminar, students will have the opportunity to meet and discuss with international scholars of the field about the effect of cultural artifacts on history.

Course leader

Mark Keck-Szajbel
Alexander Simmeth

Target group

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Course aim

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Credits info

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Fee info

EUR 0: The course is free of charge for participants of the Summer School and students of the European University Viadrina.


Restricted number of scholarships is available for the participants of the summer school. Scholarship application deadline: April 28, 2014. General application deadline: May 2, 2014.