Summary of the course
The course aims at rediscovering and (re)presenting the period of communism from the panorama of the ruins of the system. The course will not give a systematic overview of the history of the post World War II events instead, it experiments in assembling those tools that can be used when trying to understand the past decades of Central Europe.
The overwhelming majority of the readings will deal with other periods and other regions, and the students will be asked to adapt the theories to the concrete historical situation of the recent past. The focus of the inquiry will be the recent past as it makes sense from the perspective of the strange present, and the present as the discontinuous consequence of the past. The course on the prehistory of postcommunism is aimed at mixing concrete historical investigation with a rigorous methodological exercise.
All the members of the seminar are asked to read the required readings for each class, however, one or two members of the group will prepare short, one or two pages long position-papers which than will serve as the basis of discussion in class. As midterm presentation, each student will prepare the theoretical draft of his/her final essay. Shortly before the end of the term, students working on similar topics will be asked to form small "affinity-groups", and prepare an outline of the most important general problems of their inquiry.
The final grade of the students will be determined on the following basis:
in class work:30% affinity-group performance: 20% final essay: 40%
Syllabus and Reading list
1. Introduction: Re-membering "otherwise".
2.Constructing historical memory.
Reading: R. Tardiman: Deconstructing memory.
3.Revisionism and the discovery of memory.
Reading: P. Vidal-Naquet: Theses on revisionism and the Assassins of Memory.
Reading: A. Funkenstein, History, Counterhistory and Narrative.
5. Variants of Testimony.
Reading: Sh. Felman: Camus' the Fall, or the Betrayal of the Wittnes.
6. Going back to the Eye-witness.
Reading: C. Ginzburg: Just one Witness.
7. Certainty and Doubt.
Reading: B. Shaysure, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.
8. Revealing the Secret.
Reading: I. Rev: In Mendacio Veritas.
9. Burying the Past
Reading: M. Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Chs. 1 and 6.
10. Rediscovering of the Hidden.
Reading: S. Freud: The Interpretation of Dreams.
11. The Interpretation of the Real.
Reading: R. Koselleck: Future's Past.
12. Collective Forgetting.
Reading: S. Knapp: Collective Memory and the Actual Past.
13. Making Sense of the Dead.
Reading: R. Hertz: A Contribution to the Collective Representation of Death.
14. Burying History.
Reading: 1. Rev: The Archaeology of Resurrection.
15. and 16.: mid-term presentations.
17. Introduction no. 2.: The Creation of the Communist Reality.
18. Creating Subversion.
Reading: S. Greenblat: Invisible Bullets.
19. Creating (and Misunderstanding) Discipline.
Reading: M. Foucault: Discipline and Punish.
20. Creating Resistance.
Reading I.Rev: The Advantages of Being Atomized.
21. Creating "Comfort".
Reading: E. Goffman: Asylums.
22. The Suicidal Nature of Communism.
Reading: I. Rev: Uncertainty as a Technology of Power.
23. Memories and Memorials.
Reading: W. Hung, Tienanman Square: A Political History of Monuments,
J. Young, The Biography of a Memorial Icon: Nathan Rapoport's Warsaw Ghetto Monument.
24. Invisible Monuments: Recapitulating History.
25. Final Discussion: Re-membering the Past (and the conclusions of the course).
Back to the Political Science Syllabi List Back to the Syllabi Collection
Back to the CRC Homepage Back to the CEU Homepage