Paulina BrenFeb 20, 2015
The Greengrocer and His TV
The Culture of Communism after the 1968 Prague Spring
Cornell University Press 2012
Major Zeman's life is filled with action packed adventures. A young man finds his calling turning a collective farm into a shining example of agricultural efficiency. Anna embraces her role as a single mother and as the woman behind the deli counter. Two engineers show the world the high-quality of products from communist Czechoslovakia. In The Greengrocer and His TV: The Culture of Communism after the 1968 Prague Spring (Cornell University Press, 2012), Paulina Bren uses these and other television serials to analyze the meaning and experience of "normalization" in post-1968 Czechoslovakia. With a source base that ranges from television scripts to communist party archives to dissident writings, Bren reveals how the Czechoslovak regime used television to communicate an official history of the Prague Spring and to define a "normal" life for its citizens. In doing so, Bren challenges the dichotomy of the active dissident and the passive "greengrocer" made famous by Vaclav Havel. The Greengrocer and His TV received both the Council for European Studies Book Award and the Center for Austrian Studies Book Prize in 2012.