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, Friday

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 – 10:40 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


11:30 – 12:30 PANEL 2: RELIGION

Chair: Corneliu Pintilescu (University of Sibiu)

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

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

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


14:00 – 15:00 PANEL 3: CITY

Chair: Bogdan C. Iacob (University of Maryland / Centre of Advanced Studies, Sofia)

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

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


Chair: Sergei Alymov (Russian Academy of Sciences / University of Aberdeen)

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



Chair: Valentina Parisi (University of Milan)

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)

14 June, Saturday

9:00 – 10:50 PANEL 6: GENDER

Chair: Danijela Lugarić Vukas (University of Zagreb)

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



Chair: Viviana Roxana Iacob (University of Bucharest)

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

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


14:00 – 15:30 PANEL 8/A: YOUTH / CHILDREN

Chair: Andrada Fatu-Tutoveanu (Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj)

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

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

14:00 – 15:30 PANEL 8/B: THEATRE AND FILM

Chair: Christina Stojanova (University of Regina)

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



Chair: Tamás Scheibner (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest)

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

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


17:40     Concluding remarks