Men Out of Focus: The Soviet Masculinity Crisis in the Long Sixties
Published: January 2021© 2021
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 344 Pages
Illustrations: 71 b&w illustrations
Dimensions: 6.25 x 9.28
344 Pages, 6.25 x 9.28 x 0.95 in, 71 b&w illustrations
Men Out of Focus charts conversations and polemics about masculinity in Soviet cinema and popular media during the liberal period – often described as "The Thaw" – between the death of Stalin in 1953 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The book shows how the filmmakers of the long 1960s built stories around male protagonists who felt disoriented by a world that was becoming increasingly suburbanized, rebellious, consumerist, household-oriented, and scientifically complex. The dramatic tension of 1960s cinema revolved around the male protagonists’ inability to navigate the challenges of postwar life.
Selling over three billion tickets annually, the Soviet film industry became a fault line of postwar cultural contestation. By examining both the discussions surrounding the period’s most controversial movies as well as the cultural context in which these debates happened, the book captures the official and popular reactions to the dizzying transformations of Soviet society after Stalin.
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Soviet Men in Need of Saving?
1. What Was Stalinist Masculinity and Why Did It Change?
2. Being a Dad Is Not for Sissies
3. Fathers versus Sons, or, the Great Soviet Family in Trouble
4. The Trouble with Women: Consumerism and the Death of Rugged Masculinity
5. Our Friend the Atom? Science as a Threat to Masculinity
6. De-Heroization and the Pan-European Masculinity Crisis
Epilogue: The End of the Long Sixties and the Fate of the Superfluous Man
"Men Out of Focus presents a diverse range of films and other cultural materials to provide a snapshot of Soviet cultural history with global implications. Written in a lively style, it is accessible to the general reader, just as the inclusion of numerous translated political cartoons prove quite enjoyable. The specialist, too, will appreciate Dumančić’s heterogeneous selection of films."Jess Jensen Mitchell, H-Soz-Kult
"A fascinating piece of work, meticulously researched and detailed, yet thoroughly accessible. While Dumančić’s main source is Soviet cinema, it would be doing this book a great disservice to see it only as a book about men on film. The wide variety of sources taken from different cultural genres and political discourses, the consideration of multiple facets of contemporary Soviet life, and the effort, especially in the final chapter, to situate the Soviet case among developments elsewhere in Europe, means that this is a seminal book which offers a richly textured analysis of Soviet society that goes far beyond the silver screen."Claire McCallum, University of Exeter, The Russian Review
"Exceptionally well written in graceful prose that is tinged with irony and humour, Men Out of Focus has the potential to make a major contribution to available scholarship. This book contributes to the study of Soviet masculinity, which has been neglected, and, as Dumančić indicates, is crucial for understanding our current moment."Deborah Field, Department of History, Adrian College
"Utilizing a wide array of archival and printed primary sources, Men Out of Focus is a tour de force that will make a significant contribution to scholarship on the Soviet 1960s, Soviet filmmaking, and gender and masculinities in Russia and the Soviet Union as well as comparative and transnational studies."Amy Randall, Department of History, Santa Clara University
Related Blog Posts
Marko Dumančić discusses his new book, Men Out of Focus: The Soviet Masculinity Crisis in the Long Sixties, and examines some of the period’s most controversial movies.