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Grant number like: FT-59208-11

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Eleonora Gilburd
University of Chicago (Chicago, IL 60637-5418)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2011 – 8/31/2011

"To See Paris and Die": Western Culture in the Soviet Union

My book focuses on the 1950s and 1960s - the Thaw - as a pivotal chapter in the centuries-long history of Russian westernization. The first systematic exploration of the Thaw-era opening to the West, the book analyzes the reception of Western texts, paintings, films, melodies, and actual visitors in the Soviet Union. My exposition of the manifold roles of Western imports extends beyond the conceptual vocabulary of imitation and influence used to describe Russian-Western relations. Instead, I propose the concept of ownership via translation as central to the Russian reception of Western cultures. When they arrived en masse in the mid-1950s, Western objects, images, and sounds were outlandish. And yet, in the process of cross-cultural transfer the foreign became the mundane, even intimate, an indiscernible part of late Soviet life. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, this cherished familiarity and claim to ownership of things Western brought a sense of dispossession for the Russians.