Yuliya Komska

Associate Professor of German

My teaching and writing focus on the making and dismantling of borders between ideologies, territories, mediums, or languages.

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I am the author of The Icon Curtain: The Cold War's Quiet Border (University of Chicago Press, 2015), a book about a German wall that didn't fall in 1989. It tells the story of how contemporaries (German refugees, especially) dramatized an uneventful Cold War landscape, which stretched between West Germany and Czechoslovakia, and brings together travelogues, accounts of defaced Christian imagery, poems, and a host of archival sources. The book received Honorable Mention for the Modern Languages Association's biannual Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Studies in Germanic Languages and Literatures for 2014-15. A Chinese translation is forthcoming.

Together with Irene Kacandes, I co-edited the volume Eastern Europe Unmapped, which pushes against the perception that for this part of the world, geography has been destiny. It appears with Berghahn Books in the fall of 2017.

With Michelle Moyd and David Gramling, I am co-writing a programmatic book Linguistic Disobedience, to appear with Palgrave Pivot in early 2018.

I am also at work on two longer book manuscripts. One, Perfect Propaganda: Cold War Radio in the Golden Age of Television, 1950-1967, is the first transatlantic visual history of Radio Free Europe (RFE), a key broadcaster into the Eastern bloc. Here I ask, quite broadly, about what makes "perfect propaganda" and, more specifically, about some very unconventional reasons for why RFE is still being perceived - and sorely missed - as America's ideal Cold War propaganda weapon. The answer, I suggest, involves parsing the broadcaster's relationship with television in its American golden age. The second book in progress, provisionally titled If Curious George Could Speak: H. A. and Margret Rey's Life, Art, and the Gap between Them, is a biography of the literary parents of America's most famous fictional monkey. Steeped in the authors' personal and publishing history, it asks about the role that polyglot authors like the Reys played in creating a monolingual children's literature in the postwar U.S. and lets me talk about my archival finds with pre- and grade-schoolers.

To view my academic articles, please go to https://dartmouth.academia.edu/YuliyaKomska

Occasionally, I write for the media on current topics. In the past, I have published with Reuters, The Guardian, Pacific Standard, and Al Jazeera America and spoken on the New Hampshire Public Radio.

I teach across the German Studies curriculum (including language) and in Comparative Literature, where I am also active in M.A. advising. My teaching interests include, aside from the core German Studies courses, Cold War culture, German environmentalism, propaganda, science fiction under socialism, multilingualism and monolingualism, and belonging in Germany.

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327 Dartmouth Hall
HB 6084
Department(s): 
Comparative Literature
German Studies
Education: 
Ph.D. Cornell University
M.A. Cornell University
B.A. Colby College

Selected Publications

Yuliya Komska. The Icon Curtain: The Cold War's Quiet Border. Chicago: Chicago UP, 2015

Yuliya Komska. “Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Broadcasting Technologies between West Germany’s Nature Protection and anti-Americanism,” Journal of Cold War Studies, forthcoming.

Yuliya Komska. “Surveillance and the Senses in a Documentary Portrait of Radio Free Europe,” in Secret Police Files from the Eastern Bloc: Between Surveillance and Life Writing, ed. Alison Lewis, Corina Petrescu, and Valentina Glajar, 201-228. New York: Camden House, 2016.

Yuliya Komska. “The Blurred Object of Communist Nostalgia: The Case of Radio Free Europe,” Twentieth Century Communism 11 (Fall 2016): 159-173.

Yuliya Komska. “Sight Radio: Radio Free Europe on Screen, 1951-1965.” In Voices of Freedom—Western Interference? 60 Years of Radio Free Europe in Munich and Prague. Ed. Anna Bischof and Zuzanna Jürgens. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015.

Yuliya Komska. “Theater at the Iron Curtain.” German Studies Review 37:1 (Winter 2014). 87-108.

Yuliya Komska. “Introduction. West Germany’s Cold War Radio: A Crucible of the Transatlantic Century.” Special issue of German Politics and Society 32:1 (Spring 2014). 1-14.