Summer Film Institute

Culture in the Cold War:

East German Art, Music and Film

This NEH Institute for College and University Teachers—as well as professionals working in museums and other cultural institutions—took place at UMass Amherst from June 17 to July 14, 2018: Culture in the Cold War.


The Institute explored the role of the visual arts, music and film in socialist modernity. Selected topics—such as censorship and artistic freedom, the role of the state and surveillance, and race and gender in art and politics—present a compelling historical perspective on issues being raised in classrooms today. Held at UMass Amherst, the inter-disciplinary program broke new ground in the study of culture during the Cold War through a sustained examination of the role of arts and artists to the case of East Germany.


At the Institute, participants:

  • Focused on learning and teaching about culture in the Cold War in dynamic seminar discussions
  • Compared canonical and new approaches in art history, musicology, and German and film studies   
  • Critically assessed a wide selection of primary and secondary materials for teaching
  • Built lasting communities of inquiry and development of future projects


Participants comprised a robust mix of college and university faculty, advanced graduate students, and professionals working in cultural institutions —all intersecting in multiple disciplines, including film studies, art history, musicology, German studies, history, performance studies, and library, museum and archival studies. 


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