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COLT 56: The "New Man" on the Moon: Science Fiction under Socialism

Winter 2015: Komska  (10)

Contemporary readers of popular literature associate intergalactic vistas, post-human cyborgs, and overextended futurities with western science fiction (sci-fi). Yet sci-fi captivated authors and filmmakers beyond the boundaries of the western world. The advent of the space age in the 1950s put cosmic agendas on writing desks all over the former Socialist bloc. The deregulated nature of space travel as well as uncertain and uncontrollable social orders that it promised opened a Pandora's box of subversive desires, longings, and imaginings kept under a tight lid ever since the 1930s, when Socialist Realism became the dominant style for picturing life of the New Socialist Man. At the same time, Socialist sci-fi articulated a critique of dystopian thought and profiled ethical, scientific, and social concerns left unaddressed by its western counterpart. We will explore how Eastern-bloc sci-fi films and literature confounded both generic conventions and socialist-realist agendas. Readings and viewings will include Nesvadba, Strugatsky, Tarkovsky, Lem, Maetzig, Kolditz, Bulychev, and Yefremov, as well as theoretical texts by Žižek and Jameson.

Last Updated: 4/24/13