USC Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies

2017 Recipient

Honorable Mention

Between Truth and Time: A History of Soviet Central Television

Honorable Mention: Christine E. Evans
Title: Between Truth and Time: A History of Soviet Central Television (Yale University Press)

Christine E. Evans’ Between Truth and Time: A History of Soviet Central Television constitutes a major contribution to the study of Soviet culture in the Khrushchev and Brezhnev periods. Its focus on Soviet Central Television builds productively on previous studies of Soviet media, but connects its analysis with recent work on festivals, ritual, and on the ways in which authoritarian regimes seek public participation and legitimacy. It shows how the negotiations between the live and the staged, authority and authenticity that are inherent to the televisual medium were played out in a particular way in the USSR, as part of the interaction between state and public.

Between Truth and Time is a work of deep and rigorous scholarship, analyzing TV in the context of central Moscow archives, interviews, the press, and a wide range of existing scholarship, both theoretical and culturally speci c. Evans’ contribution is all the more telling because it highlights Soviet TV’s innovation and its artistic and ideological vitality, rather than seeing it through the lens of Cold War defeat. This enables Evans’ work to contribute to the ongoing reappraisal of the Brezhnev period, and of Soviet TV as paving the way, paradoxically, for both the transformations of the Perestroika period and the shape of contemporary, post-Soviet Russian television that remains an enormously in uential medium.

Between Truth and Time shows how Soviet central TV “negotiat[ed] authority in a world where political activity outside the playful world of the mass media is significantly constrained” in ways that remain relevant for understanding culture past and present.

Winner: Rebecca Gould