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Fighting the Cold War with Words

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, February 29, 2024 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0803
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This online program is presented on Zoom.
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During the Cold War, literature was both sword and noose. Novels, essays, and poems could win the hearts and minds of those caught between the competing creeds of capitalism and communism. They could also lead to blacklisting, exile, imprisonment, or execution for their authors if they offended those in power.

The clandestine intelligence services of the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union recruited secret agents and established vast propaganda networks devoted to literary warfare. But the battles were personal, too: Friends turned on one another, lovers were split by political fissures, and artists were undermined by inadvertent complicities.

Among those involved with dissidence, espionage and propaganda were George Orwell, Mary McCarthy, Graham Greene, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, John le Carré, Richard Wright, Ernest Hemingway, Boris Pasternak, and Václav Havel along with the spies, government officials, military officers, publishers, politicians, and critics who helped turn words into weapons at a time when the stakes could not have been higher.

Cultural historian and literary scholar Duncan White introduces the key literary conflicts that animated the Cold War from the beginning of the Spanish Civil War to the collapse of the Berlin Wall. White is the author of Cold Warriors: Writers Who Waged the Literary Cold War.

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