Edited Collection: Cold War II: Hollywood’s Renewed Obsession with Russia

Tatiana Prorokova's picture
Call for Papers
October 1, 2018
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Film and Film History, Political History / Studies, Russian or Soviet History / Studies

The Cold War, with its bald confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, has been widely depicted in film. Starting even before the conflict actually began with Ernst Lubitsch’s portrayals of communism in Ninotschka (1939), and ranging from Stanley Kubrick’s openly “Cold War” Dr. Strangelove (1963) to Fred Schepisi’s The Russia House (1990), Hollywood’s obsession with the Cold War, the Soviets/Russians, communism, and the political and ideological differences between the U.S. and Russia were pronounced. This obsession has persisted even after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet Union. Cold War tropes continue to be (ab)used, as can be seen in multiple representations of evil Russians on screen, including Wolfgang Petersen’s Air Force One (1997), Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2 (2010), Phillip Noyce’s Salt (2010), Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011), John Moore’s A Good Day to Die Hard (2013), and Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer (2014), to name just a few. All these films portray Russians in a rather similar manner: as members of the mafia or as plain criminals. Yet recently Hollywood cinema has made a striking turn regarding its portrayals of Russians, returning to the images of the Cold War. This turn and the films that resulted from it are what the collection proposes to examine.

The sanctions imposed on Russia during the Ukrainian crisis in 2014 by several Western countries, including the United States, along with Trump’s admiration for Putin, Russian attempts to influence the 2016 American election, the fatal poisoning in the UK, etc., have led to a tense relationship between Russia and the Western world. At the same time, over the past few years, there have been several Hollywood films that evoke events from the Cold War and bring back the memory of the confrontation between the USSR and the U.S., Russians and Americans, communism and capitalism. The editor invites potential contributors to examine these films – among them Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies (2015), Ethan Coen and Joel Coen’s Hail, Caesar! (2016), David Leitch’s Atomic Blonde (2017), Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water (2017), and Francis Lawrence’s Red Sparrow (2018) – that either explicitly tackle the issue of the Cold War or deal with it as a subplot. The collection aims to explore the reasons for Hollywood’s sudden renewed interest in the Cold War – are these recent films attempting to interpret the tightened political relations between the United States and Russia, suggesting the beginning of Cold War II? Potential contributors are invited to investigate the revival of the Cold War movie genre under multiple angles in order to understand what contribution the most recent films make to the genre of the Cold War movie in general and to the audiences’
understanding of the war, as well as the relationship between the U.S. and Russia in particular. Essays can focus exclusively on the recent films or compare these examples to films released during the Cold War.

The editor invites interested contributors to send their abstracts of 300 words and short bios to tatiana.prorokova@gmx.de until October 1, 2018. Please title your file as follows: Last Name_Abstract & Bio and include your email address in it. Selected authors will have to submit their chapters of between 7,000 and 8,000 words (Chicago Manual of Style) until March 1, 2019.


About the editor: Tatiana Prorokova is currently working on her second book project that examines representations of the environment and climate change in fiction since the Industrial Revolution (financed through the Equal Opportunity Scholarship for Outstanding Female Junior Scholars, MARA, the University of Marburg, Germany). She holds a PhD in American Studies from the University of Marburg, Germany, a European Joint Master’s Degree in English and American Studies from the University of Bamberg, Germany, and a Teaching Degree in English and German from Ryazan State University, Russia. She was an Ebeling Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society (2018) and a Visiting Scholar at the University of South Alabama, USA (English Department & Center for the Study of War and Memory). Her research interests include ecocriticism, war studies, gender studies, and race studies, and are reflected in her publications in academic journals and edited collections. She is a co-editor of Cultures of War in Graphic Novels: Violence, Trauma, and Memory (Rutgers University Press, 2018).

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