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Futures remembered: Kosmonauts, the GDR, and the retrospective impulse

Hodgin, Nicholas 2019. Futures remembered: Kosmonauts, the GDR, and the retrospective impulse. In: Skrodzka, Aga, Lu, Xiaoning and Marciniak, Katarzyna eds. The Oxford Handbook of Communist Visual Cultures, Oxford Handbooks, Oxford: Oxford University Press, (10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190885533.013.28)

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This chapter seeks to understand and speculate on the significance of certain visual features of the communist past after communism. Focusing in particular on East Germany, it considers the interplay of futures remembered and pasts experienced and the relevance of that interaction to our understanding of the GDR. It looks at the enduring appeal of cosmic culture and especially the figure of the cosmonaut as referenced across a range of media. Surveying its representation in both historical and contemporary culture, it traces the evolution of the cosmonaut as symbol, which was originally representative of socialist achievement and progressive humanism, and examines the ways in which it has come to be represented in visual and popular culture at a time when “the pendulums of the public mindset and mentality,” as Zygmunt Bauman has argued, have performed “a U-turn: from investing public hopes of improvement in the uncertain and ever too obviously un-trustworthy future, to re-investing them in the vaguely remembered past, valued for its assumed stability and so trustworthiness.”

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Modern Languages
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DD Germany
D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > ND Painting
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2021 09:00

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