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The Upheaval in Czech Textual Culture 1948-1953 (completed)

The project will investigate the changes in Czech textual culture between 1948 and 1953.

Man and soldier shaking hands. Drawing.

Poster from the period.

About the project

In this project, we investigate the period when the communists took over and consolidated political power in Czechoslovakia. As an integral part of this process, they installed a new textual culture. They did so by using the entire repressive apparatus. They aimed at securing the communist party’s almost total control with the production of meaning in the public realm, and partly also in the private realm.


We seek to describe this change as a permanent interchange between political actions and discourse. A particular challenge is to reveal the role of texts in the political terror and the traces of the terror in the texts of the period.

The project’s basic hypothesis is that the total number of text genres becomes fewer in the course of the 1948–1953 period, and that the individual genres level out both semantically and pragmatically. This forcing into conformity reduced citizens’ opportunity for collective reflection and action.


Methodologically, the project will make use of an approach which can be summarised as ‘communication-ethnographic’. In addition, the tradition from Slavic language and literary studies, with its well-developed semiotic conceptual apparatus for contextual analysis, will be utilised.

In the project the following will also be studied: literature and non-fiction, written and spoken genres; official and forbidden texts.

The project will also consider the materiality of texts and the period’s text technology, broadly understood. Especially detailed studies will be carried out on texts which were obligatory reading during the mass campaigns of the time and which aimed at forming a ‘new type of man’, and texts which had, in other ways, a particular rhetorical effect, e.g., the mass-produced reports from staged political trials, instructions to political cadres and questionnaires (used in a disciplinary way).


"The Upheaval in Czech Textual Culture 1948-1953" is a subproject in the interdisciplinary project Tekst/Historie.


The project has received funding from Anna Ahlströms och Ellen Terserus Stiftelse.

Tags: Czech, Political rhetoric
Published June 25, 2010 11:52 AM - Last modified Apr. 16, 2020 5:29 PM


Project manager: 

Karen Gammelgaard


  • Tora Hedin, Stockholm University
  • Yordanka Madzharova Bruteig
Detailed list of participants