TV Socialism

Duke University Press
Free sample

In TV Socialism, Anikó Imre provides an innovative history of television in socialist Europe during and after the Cold War. Rather than uniform propaganda programming, Imre finds rich evidence of hybrid aesthetic and economic practices, including frequent exchanges within the region and with Western media, a steady production of varied genre entertainment, elements of European public service broadcasting, and transcultural, multi-lingual reception practices. These televisual practices challenge conventional understandings of culture under socialism, divisions between East and West, and the divide between socialism and postsocialism. Taking a broad regional perspective encompassing Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, Imre foregrounds continuities between socialist television and the region’s shared imperial histories, including the programming trends, distribution patterns, and reception practices that extended into postsocialism. Television, she argues, is key to understanding European socialist cultures and to making sense of developments after the end of the Cold War and the enduring global legacy of socialism.
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About the author

Anikó Imre is Associate Professor and Chair of Critical Studies in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Identity Games: Globalization and the Transformation of Media Cultures in the New Europe.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
May 19, 2016
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Pages
328
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ISBN
9780822374466
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / Eastern
Performing Arts / Television / History & Criticism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Winner, 2012 Council for European Studies Book Award
Winner, 2012 Center for Austrian Studies Book Prize
Shortlist, 2011 Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize (ASEEES)The 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia brought an end to the Prague Spring and its promise of "socialism with a human face." Before the invasion, Czech reformers had made unexpected use of television to advance political and social change. In its aftermath, Communist Party leaders employed the medium to achieve "normalization," pitching television stars against political dissidents in a televised spectacle that defined the times.The Greengrocer and His TV offers a new cultural history of communism from the Prague Spring to the Velvet Revolution that reveals how state-endorsed ideologies were played out on television, particularly through soap opera-like serials. In focusing on the small screen, Paulina Bren looks to the "normal" of normalization, to the everyday experience of late communism. The figure central to this book is the greengrocer who, in a seminal essay by Václav Havel, symbolized the ordinary citizen who acquiesced to the communist regime out of fear.Bren challenges simplistic dichotomies of fearful acquiescence and courageous dissent to dramatically reconfigure what we know, or think we know, about everyday life under communism in the 1970s and 1980s. Deftly moving between the small screen, the street, and the Central Committee (and imaginatively drawing on a wide range of sources that include television shows, TV viewers' letters, newspapers, radio programs, the underground press, and the Communist Party archives), Bren shows how Havel's greengrocer actually experienced "normalization" and the ways in which popular television serials framed this experience.Now back by popular demand, socialist-era serials, such as The Woman Behind the Counter and The Thirty Adventures of Major Zeman, provide, Bren contends, a way of seeing—literally and figuratively—Czechoslovakia's normalization and Eastern Europe's real socialism.
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