GER 394C • Cold War Cultures: Beyond Empire
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
Hardt and Negri's Empire (2000) moves beyond the discussion of any specific historically attested imperial state to theorize the relations which characterize varieties of power networks, constellations of interests and players, and relations of capital present in all such entities. This course will take up the idea of Cold War in the same vein. If war, as the famous statement has it, is the continuation of politics by other means, then a cold war can be seen more generally as the continuation of both war and politics in the domain of culture, particularly of popular or mass culture. We will begin with the defining Cold War of the era between 1945 and 1989, centered in Europe but structuring the so-called great powers of the globe and their client states. That Cold War is exemplary of a political situation defined by a rhetoric of threat, intimidation, destruction or end of a way of life, and the potential for mutual annihilation that might or might not turn into armed conflict; that rhetoric allows the identities of the concerned national cultures to define themselves transnationally, and to create a social and cultural climate characterized as a state of exception, a moment of crisis that binds the community in a common cause of survival and resistance. This first section of the course will trace the political history of the post-World-War-II Cold War, and then move to a selection of cultural icons of the era, from distinctive media advertising and iconic political speeches, through spy novels and films, and popular culture. The next parts of the course will explore parallel moments of threat rhetoric, as it theorizes approaches to understanding the relations between politics, rhetorics and representations, and the production and distribution of cultural artifacts. The goal here is to characterize the mechanisms of cold war cultures as distinctive variants on capitalist public spheres with especially charged relations between official culture and various popular cultures. These cultures transact their identities and define their community values not along the lines described in more traditional descriptions of the public sphere (Horkheimer, Adorno, Habermas), but rather in terms of distinctive moves with symbolic capital. Participants in this course will evolve their own semester projects in a series of stages; examples may be from any time and national/transnational context. These projects will provide experience in how to construct investigations in cultural studies guided by a theoretical-political paradigm, applied to diverse categories of texts and cultural studies. All texts will be available in English; students from the national literature departments will be expected to work with some materials from their L2.
CASE 1: Anglo-American Cold War: 1945-89 Futurama: The Arms Race, "Duck and Cover," and Star Wars Cultural Artifacts: -Atomic Café -Dr. Strangelove -The Manchurian Candidate -The New York World's Fair -Le Carré, Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963) - ---, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1981) -The Third Man Political Rhetoric: -Cuban Missile Crisis -HUAC and anti-Communist speeches -Kennedy at the Berlin Wall -Reagan at the Berlin Wall CASE 2: The Germanophone Cold War Cultural Artifacts: -Lenz, Exerzierplatz -Handke, Kaspar -The Berlin Wall Political Rhetoric: -Red Army Faction (supported by East Germany) -spy moles in the German Government CASE 3: 9/11 Rhetoric: A Religious Cold War? Cultural Artifacts: -In the Shadow of Two Towers *Other texts to be determined. CASE 4: France's Cold War: A Colonial Cold War? Cultural Artifacts: Sartre's screenplay adaptation for the Crucible De Beauvoir, Les Bouches inutiles Other Texts to be determined
Abstract = 10% of grade Annotated Bibliography = 10% of grade Archive of text materials required to unfold the implications of political rhetoric = 10 % of grade Theory Wiki entry defining the theoretical problem your corpus brings up and the approach it requires = 20% of grade Short oral presentation in class (= 7-p. conference paper equivalent) = 20% of grade Longer final class paper (20 pp.)= 30% of grade