East European History

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  TOPIC THREE --

COMMUNISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS

 Ceausescu's Palace of the People, a classic example Soviet-style architecture.

READINGS:

Longworth, chapter 2

Stokes:

  • "The Marxist Critique" pp. 79-80
  • "The Hungarian Revolution" p. 81
  • Nagy, "Reform Communism," pp. 82-87
  • Mlynar, "Towards a Democratic Political Organization of Society", pp. 123-125
  • Vaculik, "Two Thousand Words...." pp. 126-130
  • Charter 77, pp. 163-166
  • "Ethics & Antipolitics," pp. 167
  • Poland in the Late 1970's, pp. 193-203
  • Solidarity pp. 204-214
  • Kundera, "The Tragedy of C. Europe," pp. 217-223

Legters 183-192

Wazyk, Poem for Adults

"Life & Death in Romania" NYRB 1986

H. Eagle "Film Language and the Artist's Truth"

Poems by Ana Blandiana

OUTLINE:

Topic Outline:

A. Communism and the Thaw in Eastern Europe

B. From Marxism to Anti-poltics

Lecture Outlines:

 

Soviet tank on a Budapest street in 1956.

 

 
Communist Memorial to the Warsaw Ghetto Victim

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

1. Do you see a parallel between Khrushchev and Gorbachev in their impacts of Eastern Europe? Explain.

2. What is your favorite part of "Poem for Adults" (PfA), and why? What do you make of the title of this poem? Analyze this poem as a political document, and describe its timing.

3. Longworth writes (p. 47) that PfA "encapsulated so much of the human truth involved in the frantic rush of Stalinist industrialization "sudden urbanization and social restructuring." What was this "human truth" in Poland according to Wazyk? Be quite specific, and make a list of the poetís observations about communist Poland.

4. According to Gale Stokes, the post-Stalinist East European leaders were animated by an interest in "reform, renewal, and improvement" rather than by "outright rejection and disgust." What Marxist arguments did reformers like Imre Nagy make against the rigidly Stalinist system of their communist predecessors?

5. Poets played a political role in Eastern Europe. Comment with respect to Wazyk, Blandiana, and the Petofi Circle (see Stokes p. 81). To what do you attribute this combination of literature and politics?

6. What is the main point (or two) of Mlynar's "Towards a Democratic Political Organization of Society"? of Vaculik's "2000 Words"?

7. Put yourself in the shoes of a Czech or Slovak student in 1968. Would you have supported Mlynar and Vaculik?

 

 FILMS AND ASSIGNMENTS

Films:

Man of Marble

Oratorio for Prague

Assignments:

1968 Czech headline - Soviet Invasion Caption reads: "The Allied armies enter Czechoslovakia at the request of Party and state activists"
 
Soviet Tanks in Prague 1968

INTERESTING WEB SITES:

Stalinism - its origins and its future -- with a great section of Stalinist puppet biographies

 1956 - Hungarian Revolution "Those Heroic Days" (a timeline of the October events)

Reproductions of 1956 articles about the Hungarian Revolution from the New York Times

The Legacy of 1968 - An essay from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

 

 

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