Dr. Sergei Zhuk on Soviet Culture and Cold War History

Jeffrey Brooks, Professor of History, Johns Hopkins University, and Sergei Zhuk in Baltimore, the end of August, 2014
Jeffrey Brooks, Professor of History, Johns Hopkins University, and Sergei Zhuk in Baltimore, the end of August, 2014

Sergei Zhuk  (with Jeffrey Brooks)​  published a new article: “The Distinctiveness of Soviet Culture, 1932-1992,”  in the Oxford Handbook of Modern Russian History, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 48 pages. Using various archival documents, memoirs, diaries, periodicals and more than 70 personal interviews with contemporaries of the events, this essay is an attempt to show the paradoxes of the cultural Cold War in Soviet consumption of the American visual media – films and television from the United States.

“The quintessentially Soviet element of cultural development in the USSR between 1932 and 1991 was Socialist Realism. The period prior to the 1930s was its preface and that from the mid-1950s a long post-script. By the mid-1980s, Soviet publics had moved irreversibly beyond Socialist Realism in all the arts, and no viable new contender could assume the particularist mantle. The best official offerings to compete with new Western movements after 1945 were too little and too late. In the absence of a viable particularist contender and with institutions of isolationism eroding, Soviet culture inexorably drew closer to its counterparts abroad. By 1991 it had been gone so long that its formal passing was hardly noticed.”

Sergei Zhuk will also have an article published this month in Cold War History titled: “Hollywood’s Insidious Charms: The Impact of American Cinema and Television on the Soviet Union during the Cold.” Cold War History, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 4, 24 pages.

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