“Thank you, our Stalin, for a happy childhood.” “Thank you, dear Marshal [Stalin], for our freedom, for our children’s happiness, for life.” Between the Russian Revolution and the Cold War, Soviet public culture was so dominated by the power of the state that slogans like these appeared routinely in newspapers, on posters, and in government proclamations. In this penetrating historical study, Jeffrey Brooks draws on years of research into the most influential and widely circulated Russian newspapers—including Pravda, Isvestiia, and the army paper Red Star—to explain the origins, the nature, and the effects of this unrelenting idealization of the state, the Communist Party, and the leader.
Brooks shows how, beginning with Lenin, the Communists established a state monopoly of the media that absorbed literature, art, and science into a stylized and ritualistic public culture—a form of political performance that became its own reality and excluded other forms of public reflection. He presents and explains scores of self-congratulatory newspaper articles, including tales of Stalin’s supposed achievements and virtue, accounts of the country’s allegedly dynamic economy, and warnings about the decadence and cruelty of the capitalist West. Brooks pays particular attention to the role of the press in the reconstruction of the Soviet cultural system to meet the Nazi threat during World War II and in the transformation of national identity from its early revolutionary internationalism to the ideology of the Cold War. He concludes that the country’s one-sided public discourse and the pervasive idea that citizens owed the leader gratitude for the “gifts” of goods and services led ultimately to the inability of late Soviet Communism to diagnose its own ills, prepare alternative policies, and adjust to new realities.
The first historical work to explore the close relationship between language and the implementation of the Stalinist-Leninist program, Thank You, Comrade Stalin! is a compelling account of Soviet public culture as reflected through the country’s press.
In this story of the impact of slave trade on an insular African society, Larson explores how the people of highland Madagascar reshaped their social identity and their cultural practices. As Larson argues, the modern Merina ethnic identity and some of its key cultural traditions were fashioned and refashioned through localized experiences of enslavement and mercantile capitalism and by a tension-filled political dialogue among common highland Malagasy and their rulers. Larson’s analysis expands traditional definitions of the African diaspora to include forcible exile of African slaves within the African continent as well as areas external to it. By locating Merina history within wider narratives of merchant capitalism, African history, African diaspora, and Indian Ocean history, Larson has produced a book that both recognizes the diversity of historical experience and highlights the structural connections of intercontinentally joined systems of forced labor.
In Primers for Prudery Ronald G. Walters examines the historical and social context as well as the substance of sexual advice manuals in 19th-century America. Allowing the authors of these manuals to speak for themselves—with generous excerpts by contemporary authorities on subjects ranging from the virtues of celibacy to the vices of masturbation—Walters offers his readers a complex reading of the Victorian “prudery” referred to in the book’s title. Supplementing each of the excerpts with extensive commentary, he places the advice manuals in the larger setting of gender and class issues.
First published in 1974, Primers for Prudery now returns to print in a paperback edition with new selections from women’s advice to women and a new preface in which Walters discusses changes that have occurred in the scholarship on sexuality since the book’s first publication. He also provides an updated bibliographical note.
Ideal either as a textbook or anthology, this volume encompasses the entire chronology of the French Revolution, while highlighting the political, cultural, and social diversity of the period.
On the eve of the American Revolution, nearly three-quarters of all African Americans in mainland British America lived in two regions: the Chesapeake, centered in Virginia, and the Lowcountry, with its hub in South Carolina. Here, Philip Morgan compares and contrasts African American life in these two regional black cultures, exploring the differences as well as the similarities. The result is a detailed and comprehensive view of slave life in the colonial American South.
Morgan explores the role of land and labor in shaping culture, the everyday contacts of masters and slaves that defined the possibilities and limitations of cultural exchange, and finally the interior lives of blacks—their social relations, their family and kin ties, and the major symbolic dimensions of life: language, play, and religion. He provides a balanced appreciation for the oppressiveness of bondage and for the ability of slaves to shape their lives, showing that, whatever the constraints, slaves contributed to the making of their history. Victims of a brutal, dehumanizing system, slaves nevertheless strove to create order in their lives, to preserve their humanity, to achieve dignity, and to sustain dreams of a better future.
Networks of Innovation offers a historical perspective on the manner in which private sector organizations have acquired, sustained, and periodically lost the ability to develop, manufacture, and market new serum antitoxins and vaccines. The primary focus is on the H. K. Mulford Company, on Sharp & Dohme, which acquired Mulford in 1929, and on Merck & Co., Inc., which merged with Sharp & Dohme in 1953. By surveying a century of innovation in biologicals, the authors show how the activities of these three commercial enterprises were related to a series of complex, evolving networks of scientific, governmental, and medical institutions in the United States and abroad.
For this new edition of American Reformers 1815-1860, Ronald G. Walters has amplified and updated his exploration of the fervent and diverse outburst of reform energy that shaped American history in the early years of the Republic. Capturing in style and substance the vigorous and often flamboyant men and women who crusaded for such causes as abolition, temperance, women’s suffrage, and improved health care, Walters presents a brilliant analysis of how the reformers’ radical belief that individuals could fix what ailed America both reflected major transformations in antebellum society and significantly affected American culture as a whole.
Laura Mason examines the shifting fortunes of singing as a political gesture to highlight the importance of popular culture to revolutionary politics. Arguing that scholars have overstated the uniformity of revolutionary political culture, Mason uses songwriting and singing practices to reveal its diverse nature. Song performances in the streets, theaters, and clubs of Paris showed how popular culture was invested with new political meaning after 1789, becoming one of the most important means for engaging in revolutionary debate. Throughout the 1790s, French citizens came to recognize the importance of anthems for promoting their interpretations of revolutionary events, and for championing their aspirations for the Revolution. By opening new arenas of cultural activity and demolishing Old Regime aesthetic hierarchies, revolutionaries permitted a larger and infinitely more diverse population to participate in cultural production and exchange, Mason contends. The resulting activism helps explain the urgency with which successive governments sought to impose an official political culture on a heterogeneous and mobilized population. After 1793, song culture was gradually depoliticized as popular classes retreated from public arenas, middle brow culture turned to the strictly entertaining, and official culture became increasingly rigid. At the same time, however, singing practices were invented which formed the foundation for new, activist singing practices in the next century. The legacy of the Revolution, according to Mason, was to bestow new respectability on popular singing, reshaping it from an essentially conservative means of complaint to an instrument of social and political resistance.
In a poststructuralist study of 13th-century French historical texts, Gabrielle Spiegel investigates the reasons for the rise of French vernacular prose historiography at this particular time. She argues that the vernacular prose histories that have until now been regarded as royalist were actually products of the aristocracy, reflecting its anxiety as it faced social and economic change and political threats from the monarchy.