Slavic 39C: Images of Eastern Europe: “Cold War: Fear, Conspiracies, Spies, and Noir”

TT 3:30-5, 183 Dwinelle. Instructor: David Frick.

Units: 3 Satisfies L&S International Studies OR Arts & Literature breadth requirement.

With much talk and writing now focusing on a Second Cold War (Cold War II), it may be a good time to take a look at some aspects of the original Cold War, conventionally and loosely dated from the end of World War II (1945) to the Fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the dissolution of the Soviet Union (1991).

We will range across history and politics, literature and film—some classics in the usual sense of the world, some just “classic” for a variety of other reasons.

We will begin our reading with George Orwell’s 1984 (1949). Then we will shift to Richard Lineman’s 2012 The Noir Forties: The American People from Victory to Cold War, based largely on popular media, including film. Richard M. Fried’s short and lively Nightmare in Red (1991) will take up the “Red Scare” as it led to the rise and fall of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. Eugene Harvey and Burdick Wheeler’s 1962 Fail-Safe was a must-read in its decade, a story about a “small accident” with a nuclear defense system. We will then backtrack and shift focus a bit to Graham Greene’s 1955 The Quiet American, a novel about a naïve American leading the coming waves of American advisers and then troops into the Viet Nam War. John Le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy may be one of the best ever espionage novels about the U.S.-Soviet covert wars in Central Europe. Our reading will end with John Lewis Gaddis’s recent (2005) survey of the topic, The Cold War: A New History.

Along the way, we will view (in class) a variety of films that offer a counterpoint to our readings: The Third Man, Dr. Strangelove, I Was A Communist for the FBI, The Red Menace, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, and The Manchurian Candidate.

Course requirements: attendance (20%) active participation in class discussion of the readings and the films (20%), two mid-term short-essay exams (30% total), and a final essay exam (30%).


John le Carré, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, New York, 2011. ISBN-10: 014312093X; ISBN-13: 978-0143120933.
Richard M. Fried, Nightmare in Red: The McCarthy Era in Perspective, Oxford, 1991. ISBN-10: 0195043618; ISBN-13: 978-0195043617.
John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History, New York, 2005. ISBN-10: 0143038273; ISBN-13: 978-0143038276.
Eugene Harvey and Burdock Wheeler, Fail-Safe, (Reprint) New York, 1999. ISBN-10: 088001654X; ISBN-13: 978-0880016544.
Graham Greene, The Quiet American, (Reprint) New York, 2004. ISBN-10: 0143039024; ISBN-13: 978-0143039020.
Richard Lineman, The Noir Forties: The American People from Victory to Cold War, New York, 2012. ISBN-10: 1568589506; ISBN-13: 978-1568589503.
George Orwell, 1984, London, 1949. ISBN-10: 0451524934; ISBN-13: 978-0451524935.

The Third Man (1949)
Dr. Strangelove (1964)
I Was a Communist for the FBI (1951)
The Red Menace (1949)
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Prerequisites: none.