Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena

Professor Melissa Feinberg

Fellow Melissa Feinberg

Oktober 2014 - März 2015
Mail: mfeinberg(at)history.rutgers(dot)edu

Melissa Feinberg has been Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick since 2008. Previously she was Associate Professor (2006-2008) and Assistant Professor (2000-2006) at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She received her Ph.D from the University of Chicago in 2000. She is an editor of Aspasia, a yearbook of women's and gender history in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. She has received fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Research project at the Kolleg

In her research at the Kolleg, Melissa Feinberg will examine the contested history of fear in East-Central Europe during the Stalinist period (1948-1956). Rather than take the approach of the history of emotions, she will consider fear both as an essential element of political culture and as a component of everyday life. This research project is divided into two parts. The first will examine how the idea of a fearful East-Central Europe was created in both Eastern and Western propaganda. I will look at phenomena like show trials and the peace campaign (in the East) or the Crusade for Freedom and the publication of The Captive Mind (in the West) to illustrate how governments and the media on both sides of the Cold War divide characterized East-Central Europe as fearful and powerless. The second part will consider the complicated ways in which these messages were internalized and resisted. How did East-Central Europeans talk about their feelings of fear and powerlessness and what can these stories tell us about life in Stalinist East-Central Europe? I will particularly look at stories about the fear of informers, the fear of war and the fear of scarcity.

Main areas of research

  • History of 20th century East-Central Europe, particularly Czechoslovakia
  • Democracy, citizenship and human rights 
  • Gender history 
  • History of feminism 


Positions and Memberships

  • President, Czechoslovak Studies Association
  • Board Member, Association of Women in Slavic Studies 
  • Member, American Historical Association 
  • Member, Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies


Elusive Equality: Gender, Citizenship and the Limits of Democracy in Czechoslovakia, 1918-1950 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006).


Democracy at Home: Family and Marriage Law in Interwar Czechoslovakia," in Sara Kimble and Marion Vera Rowekamp, eds., New Perspectives in European Women's Legal History (Routledg
e: forthcoming, 2015).

"Soporific Bombs and American Flying Discs: War Fantasies in East-Central Europe, 1948-1956," Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung 6, no. 3 (2013): 450-471.

"Fantastic Truths, Compelling Lies: Radio Free Europe and the Response to the Slánský Trial in Czechoslovakia," Contemporary European History 22, no. 1 (2013): 107-125.

"Battling for Peace: The Transformation of the Women's Movement in Cold War Czechoslovakia and Eastern Europe," in Joanna Regulska and Bonnie Smith, eds., Women and Gender in Postwar Europe (London: Routledge, 2012): 16-33.

"The Survey Project: Researching the Everyday Experiences of Rural Czech Women and Imagining Modernity at the End of the Second World War," Journal of Women's History 23, no. 4 (2011): 82-107.

"Die Durchsetzung einer neuen Welt. Politische Prozesse in Osteuropa, 1948-1954," in Bernd Greiner, Christian Th. Müller and Dierk Walter, eds. Angst im Kalten Krieg (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2009): 190-219.

"The New Woman Question: Gender, Nation and Citizenship in the First Czechoslovak Republic" in Mark Cornwall and RJW Evans, eds., Czechoslovakia in a Nationalist and Fascist Europe 1918-1948 Proceedings of the British Academy 140 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 45-61.


James Krapfl, Revolution with a Human Face: Politics, Culture and Community in Czechoslovakia, 1989-1992 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013), in American Historical Review vol. 119, no. 4 (2014): 1382-1383 doi: 10.1093/ahr/119.4.1382.

James Mace Ward, Priest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the Making of Fascist Slovakia (Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2013), in Slavic Review 73, no. 2 (2014): 404-405.

Denisa Nečasová, Buduj vlast-posílíš mír! Ženské hnutí v českých zemích 1945-1955 (Brno: Matice moravská, 2011) in Bohemia 53, no. 1 (2013): 250-252.

Mark Cornwall, The Devil's Wall: The Nationalist Youth Mission of Heinz Rutha (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012) in German History 2012; doi: 10.1093/gerhis/ghs097.

Malgorzata Fidelis, Women, Communism and Industrialization in Postwar Poland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010) in Annales 67, no. 3 (2012).

Please find more information on Melissa Feinberg on the website of the Rutgers University