UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


SEESGE25 All Quiet on the Eastern Front: Culture, Politics and Everyday Life in Central & Eastern Europe from Stalin to Present 

UCL Credit Value: 30

ECTS Value: 15

Term 2

Module Coordinator: Dr Peter Zusi

Taught By: Uilleam Blacker, Peter Zusi, Tim Beasley-Murray, Katarzyna Zechenter, Daniel Abondolo, Titus Hjelm

Weekly Contact Hours: 2.0
Prerequisites: None

Summative Assessment


Formative Assessment

Presentations in the final session on students' essay topics. Feedback given in class discussion.

Module Outline

Western observers have primarily looked upon post-war Eastern Europe as the homeland of crisis: a region where history favours the dramatic props of show trials, tank divisions, and ethnic cleansing. Eastern Europeans, however, lived far more often in between such events. These periods of 'normalcy' could of course be bleak (encouraging idealization of the excitement of Western consumer culture) but also created their own particular possibilities for action and interaction. This course will explore how everyday life in Eastern Europe — simultaneously boredom and threat, shelter and surprise — could inspire powerful forms of cultural expression.

The course is organized around dates that sound obscure: years or periods in which social change seemed distant rather than imminent, moments anchored in everydayness rather than buffeted by upheaval. These 'snapshot moments' may be less familiar from the history books, but they are more representative of broader social patterns. In each case that pattern shall be approached through analysis either of a significant work of literary, visual or cinematic art, or through popular culture produced at that time, allowing exploration of how cultural expression works through both rejection and exemplification of social norms. Further, for each moment a different country serves as a point of focus that may be contrasted and compared to events elsewhere: the region as a whole thus appears more complex, being characterized by both simultaneity and dissimilarity. In every case, however, special attention will be paid to the ways people have turned banal realities into sources of creativity, and to how these historical 'grey spots' might change our broader image of developments in post-war Eastern Europe.

Please note: This outline is accurate at the time of publication. Minor amendments may be made prior to the start of the academic year.