Central to the Soviet experiment was the refashioning of man into what had often been referred to as the Homo Sovieticus. In the past decades, a growing body of new scholarship has focused on this very concept, tracking its origins in Russian political thought, cultural history, and aesthetics. Studies of comparative scope have generally confined themselves to considering the parallels and differences between the Soviet and Nazi/Fascist human engineering practices within the realms of Totalitarianism Studies, or the relation of the Soviet case to the Chinese and Cuban cases. Little attention has been paid yet in this context to the Eastern and Central European countries which were closely integrated into the Soviet sphere of interest after the Second World War. This interdisciplinary conference aims to fill this gap of scholarship.

The Stalinist version of the New Man was designed not only for domestic use, but for export. Significantly, in a competitive manner that conditioned the cultural orientation of high Stalinism, the New Man was imagined to be a prototype not only to the East, but to the West as well, an alternative to Western “decadent” subjectivity. In most cultures of Eastern and Central Europe, outside of the Soviet Union, however, anthropological standards were traditionally set by Western models, even though their reception was often critical. This tension seriously challenged the communist parties that tried to legitimize the transformation of their societies by invoking and reworking local traditions.

Questions that arise here include: How did the various communist elites try to accommodate ideas of the Soviet Man to local political, intellectual, cultural, and religious traditions? How did the social structure of Polish, East German, Czechoslovakian, Hungarian, Yugoslavian, Romanian, and Bulgarian societies affect the articulation of ideas of the New Man? What kind of local experimental practices or ideas emerged in pedagogy, psychology, criminology, or the medical sciences that aimed at the creation of a New Man? What were considered to be the primary tools for reworking oneself, and which among these were local or regional specificities, if any? Were there local models for the New Man?

Creating a new type of man, transforming the individual human soul and body, was certainly part of a larger project: that of remaking the entire people. This often involved a confrontation with the long established discourses on the given nations’ characteristics, which requires us to raise the question: How the idea of a New Man was incorporated into these controversies on national characteristics, and what was its function within these debates? Papers will address these questions, and many more.


13 June

9:00    Opening remarks by Corin Braga (Dean, Faculty of Letters)
and István Berszán (Head of Department of Hungarian Literary Studies)

9:20    Introductory remarks by Tamás Scheibner (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest)

9:40 – 11:10 PANEL 1: HISTORY

Chair: Imre József Balázs (Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj)

Bogdan C. Iacob (University of Maryland / Centre of Advanced Studies, Sofia)
The Founding Father as New Man: N. Iorga's Role in History-Production in Communist Romania

Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič (Central European University, Budapest)
"Creating the New Figure of the Active Slovene:" National Character and Communist Revolution in Slovenia, 1941-1948

Ina Píšová (Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague)
Old New Man: Search for the Soviet Man in Czechoslovak History


11:30 – 13:00 PANEL 2: RELIGION

Chair: TBA

Nonka Bogomilova (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia)
The New Man Atheistic/Rationalist Dimension: The Bulgarian Case

Sergei Alymov (Russian Academy of Sciences / University of Aberdeen)
A Communist Metaphysics? The Life-Story and Writings of a New Man and Self-Styled Prophet

Simina Bădică (Museum of the Romanian Peasant, Bucharest)
The Socialist Pilgrim: The New Man as Museum Visitor


14:00 – 15:30 PANEL 3: CITY

Chair: TBA

Olena Kovalenko (Pontifical University of John Paul II, Cracow)
A New Citizen for the New City: Urban Structure in the Creation of a New Man in Nowa Huta

Daniela Spinu (University of Bucharest)
“The New Man Doesn't Grow Up in Greenhouses or Hatcheries”. Molding the New Type of Worker in Victoria, the First Romanian Communist City

Mara Mărginean (Romanian Academy, Cluj)
The Atheist Worker. Technical Propaganda in Romanian Heavy Industry Centers by the late 1950s


16:00 – 17:30 PANEL 4/A: GENDER

Chair: TBA

Valentina Parisi (University of Milan)
Worker, Peasant, but Especially Friend. Pleading for the New (?) Soviet Woman in Polish Female Periodicals

Eva Schäffler (University of Salzburg)
New Men, New Women: Love Relationships and Socialist Ideology in the GDR

Franko Dota (University of Zagreb)
The Homosexual Male as the Antipode to the Socialist "Homo Yugoslavicus"

Ivan Simić (University College London)
Soviet Influences on Yugoslav Gender Policies, 1945–1955: The Construction of the New Man at Youth Work Actions in Yugoslavia

                                               AND AVANT-GARDE CHALLANGES
Chair: TBA

Trever Hagen (University of Exeter)
Total Realism in Socialist Realist Bohemia

Vít Schmarc (Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague)
The Coming One: Positive Hero of Czech Socialist Realism as Transforming and Transformed Subject

Imre József Balázs (Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj)
The New Man as Five-Coloured Man: György Szántó's Utopia 

Dávid Szolláth (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest)
Getting Rid of the Avant-Garde in Hungarian Literature

14 June


Chair: TBA

Svetla Kazalarska (Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia)
“Fashioning” the New Man in Socialist Bulgaria

Paul Lenormand (Sciences Po Paris)
Miles Sovieticus? Education Officers and the New People’s Army in Postwar Czechoslovakia

Dejan Zec (Institute of Recent History of Serbia, Belgrade)
Forging a New Man: Physical Culture and Sports as Tools of Social Engineering in Communist Yugoslavia (1945-1952)



Chair: TBA

Nina Dimitrova (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia)
The New Man Project in the Bulgarian Philosophical Culture

Radu Stancu (University of Bucharest / National Archives of Romania)
New Man Is Yet to Come: Ideological Perspectives and the Use of Capital Punishment in Communist Romania


13:00 – 14:30 PANEL 7/A: YOUTH / CHILDREN

Danijela Lugarić Vukas (University of Zagreb)
The New Soviet Man in a Little Boy’s Body: A Comparative Analysis of Pavlik Morozov and Boško Buha

Júlia Vallasek (Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj)
New Kids in the Block (Agenda-setting in Stalinist Children’s Media)

Nikola Baković (Regional Historical Archives of Čačak)
“Forging a New Youth”: Modes of Political Mobilisation at Yugoslav Youth Labour Actions - Examples of Čačak Region Brigades (1946–1952)

István Berszán (Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj)
Setting a Camp for the New Man: A Transylvanian Project

13:00 – 14:30 PANEL 7/B: THEATRE AND FILM

Viviana Roxana Iacob (University of Bucharest)
Performance as Ideological Weapon: The New Man on Stage

Carola Heinrich (University of Vienna)
From Realism to Humanism: Translations of the New Man in Romania’s Film History

Vedrana Madžar (Humboldt University, Berlin)
Faces of Homo Yugoslavicus: Representations of New Man in Yugoslav Partisan Film

Zsófia Buglya (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest)
Variations on a Theme. Humor and Ideology in the Hungarian “Apartment Movies”


Chair: TBA

Yaroslav I. Pasko (Donetsk State University of Management)
Homo Sovieticus: Social Reconstruction and Historical Versions

Aleksandra Konarzewska (University of Tübingen)
Social Pedagogy, not Social Engineering. The Case of Tadeusz Kotarbiński

Jonathan L. Owen (University of St Andrews)
Barbarogenius Meets Soviet New Man: The Confrontation of Stalinist and Zenitist Models in Yugoslav ‘Black Wave’ Cinema

Christina Stojanova (University of Regina)
The Devolution of Homo Sovieticus in the Films of Béla Tarr

17:15     Concluding remarks