Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena

Professor Melissa Feinberg

Fellow Melissa Feinberg

April - June 2019 (fellowship during sabbatical leave from Rutgers University)
e-mail: mfeinberg(at)history.rutgers(dot)edu

Melissa Feinberg is Professor of History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She received her Ph.D from the University of Chicago. Her first book, Elusive Equality: Gender, Citizenship and the Limits of Democracy in Czechoslovakia, 1918–1950 (2006), examined the ways in which gender troubled democratic ideals in newly independent Czechoslovakia, showing how debates over gender equality reflected deep divisions over the meaning of democracy itself. Her more recent work has expanded to consider the whole of the former Soviet Bloc and its relationship with the West. Her latest book, Curtain of Lies: The Battle over Truth in Stalinist Eastern Europe (2017), looked at the ways that actors on both sides of the Iron Curtain tried to define the “truth” of Communism in Eastern Europe. This book was recently awarded the George Blazyca prize from the British Association of Slavic and East European Studies. She is currently working on a broad survey of the history of Eastern Europe from 1939 to the present. From October 2014 until March 2015 Melissa Feinberg held a regular fellowship at the Imre Kertész Kolleg.

Research project at the Kolleg

At the Kolleg, I will be working on a new book: Communism in Eastern Europe (under contract with Routledge). This book is a survey of the history of Eastern Europe from the Second World War to the present, directed at undergraduates. My goal with this project is to create a readable and accessible history of the region that incorporates the insights of the past two decades of research. Rather than focusing on high politics, as most other books of this kind have done, my aim is to give students a sense of what both Communist and post-Communist societies were like. Another aim of the book to move beyond the Cold War triumphalism that has characterized many narratives of this kind. By continuing the story into the present, I hope to put the era of late socialism and its aftermath into a more global story of a growing neoliberal world order and the reactions to it.

Main areas of research

  • History of 20th century East-Central Europe
  • History of emotions and politics
  • Gender history 
  • History of feminism 

Positions and Memberships

  • American Historical Association
  • Association of Slavic and East European Studies
  • Association of Women in Slavic Studies
  • Czechoslovak Studies Association


Curtain of Lies: The Battle over Truth in Stalinist Eastern Europe (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017)

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


“The Source: Radio Free Europe Information Item #687/54 (29 January 1954)—The Decline of Family Life,” (translation from the Czech with critical introduction) Aspasia 10 (2016): 89–101.

“Democracy at Home: Debating Family and Marriage Law in the First Czechoslovak Republic,” in Sara Kimble and Marion Vera Rowekamp, eds., New Perspectives in European Women’s Legal History (New York: Routledge: 2016): 76–96.

“Soporific Bombs and American Flying Discs: War Fantasies in East-Central Europe, 1948–1956,” Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung 62, 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 G. 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.



Review of Stefano Bottoni, Long Awaited West: Eastern Europe Since 1944, trans. Sean Lambert, (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2017) in Hungarian Historical Review 7, no. 2 (2018): 174–176.

Review of Jakub S. Beneš, Workers and Nationalism: Czech and German Social Democracy in Habsburg Austria, 1890—1918 (Oxford University Press: New York, 2017) in Nationalities Papers 46, no. 5 (2018): 940–942.

Review of Rudolf Kučera, Rationed Life: Science, Everyday Life, and Working-Class Politics in theBohemian Lands, 1914–1918 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2016), Journal of Modern History 90, no.1 (2017): 227–228.

Review of Friederike Kind-Kovács, Written Here, Published There: How Underground Literature Crossed the Iron Curtain (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2014), in Austrian History Yearbook 48 (2017): 333–334.

Review of Pawel Machcewicz, Poland’s War Against Radio Free Europe, 1956–1989 trans. Maya Latynski (Washington DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2014) in Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung 65, no. 3 (2016): 466–468.

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