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Oct 10, 2017 7:00 PM

Discussion: The Two sides of the Iron Curtain

Two historians discuss life on either side of the Iron Curtain while exploring the literal, yet metaphorical, concept of the wall. How did tensions between East and West end with the fall of Communism?



How did two separate worlds, divided by the ideas of "East" and "West" co-exist? How did they see each other, and how did their lives compare?

Two historians, Jiri Ellinger and Paulina Bren, discuss life on either side of the Iron Curtain while exploring the literal, yet metaphorical, concept of the "wall." A "commonn voice" of a Czechoslovak and American that lived through the Cold War will also be heard.

The discussion will take place in the Bohemian National Hall's gallery where Pavel Štecha's photos will be on display. Stecha's work explores the personality of Vaclav Havel, the first President of the Czech Republic, and leading dissident voice against the Communist government. The euphoric aura of Czechoslovaks in Prauge during the time of the Velvet Revolution, the event which marked the end of Communism in Czechoslovakia, are also captured by Štecha.







Photo on right: Pavel Štecha


Paulina Bren received her undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University, her M.A. from the Jackson School for International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle, and her Ph.D. in Modern European history from New York University.

Her first book, The Greengrocer and His TV: The Culture of Communism after the 1968 Prague Spring (Cornell UP, 2010), won the Council for European Studies 2012 Book Prize, the Austrian Studies Association 2012 Book Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2011 Vucinich Book Award. It was also translated into Czech and published by Academia in 2013. Her second book, co-edited with Mary Neuburger, was a collection of essays entitled Communism Unwrapped: Consumption in Cold War Eastern Europe (Oxford UP, 2012). In January 2017, she co-organized, with Lisa Kaul, the Poughkeepsie Women’s March Across the Hudson.

Bren is currently working on three different projects: a book on New York’s famous 20th century women’s residential hotel, The Barbizon (the backdrop to Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar); a book on British wives in postwar Czechoslovakia at the height of Stalinism; and, with Mary Neuburger, a textbook on 19th and 20th Century Eastern Europe, commissioned by Bloomsbury.

Paulina Bren teaches at Vassar College and has been the recipient of many grants and fellowships, including from the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), the National Council of East European and Eurasian Research (NCEEER), the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), and the Fulbright-Hays.



Please arrive at least ten minutes prior to the event. 

Empty seats will be released to standby patrons after that time. 



Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


Oct 10, 2017 7:00 PM


Czech Centre

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