Ph.D. Student in History, Harvard University; Graduate Student Affiliate & Krupp Foundation Dissertation Research Fellowship Recipient, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
May 5, 2023
12:00pm - 1:00pm
Hoffmann Room, Adolphus Busch Hall
The Dissertation Workshop is a graduate educational seminar open to graduate students and their advisors. CES invites graduates students who are interested in attending this workshop or in presenting their research to contact Nikolas Weyland, CES Dissertation Workshop Coordinator.
Emma Friedlander is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the history department. Her dissertation examines the popular culture of alternative spirituality in the late Soviet and post-Soviet periods in the Eastern European portion of the Soviet Union.
years surrounding Soviet collapse, a notable craze for alternative spirituality
and the paranormal swept society. This paper examines the inflection of
horoscopes, premonitions, and exposés on psychics, UFOs, and alternative
medicine trends in the newly independent tabloid press in the early 1990s. This
chronology transcends the boundaries of official Soviet collapse in December
1991 to conceive of 1990-1993 as a cohesive era experienced by people as the
“end of times.” The paper traces press discussions about alternative
spirituality and the paranormal to ask how people interpreted the craze
surrounding them. It identifies the combining of alternative spirituality with
rampant sexuality and consumerism in the tabloids to argue for an abandonment
of the previous moral order and search for a new one. Ultimately, the boulevard
press provided a vital space for people to discuss and grapple with late and
post-Soviet culture. Sources from Russia, Ukraine, and Latvia demonstrate their
shared legacy of Soviet popular culture while revealing meaningful differences
in the former republics.