Yuliya Komska

Academic Appointments

Associate Professor of German
Graduate Study Director, Comparative Literature, 2020-21

My teaching and writing focus on the making and dismantling of borders between ideologies, territories, languages, and mediums.

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I am the author of The Icon Curtain: The Cold War's Quiet Border (University of Chicago Press, 2015), a book about a German wall that didn't fall in 1989. It tells the story of how contemporaries (German refugees, especially) dramatized an uneventful Cold War landscape, which stretched between West Germany and Czechoslovakia, and brings together travelogues, accounts of defaced Christian imagery, poems, and a host of archival sources. The book received Honorable Mention for the Modern Languages Association's biannual Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Studies in Germanic Languages and Literatures for 2014-15. A Chinese translation appeared with the Shandong Pictorial Publishing House in 2018.

Together with Irene Kacandes, I co-edited the volume Eastern Europe Unmapped (Berghahn Books, 2017), which pushes against the perception that for this part of the world, geography has been destiny.

With Michelle Moyd and David Gramling, I co-wrote a programmatic book Linguistic DisobedienceRestoring Power to Civic Language (Palgrave Pivot, 2018).

I am also at work on two longer book manuscripts. One, provisionally titled How Did They Get There: What H. A. and Margret Rey Gained and Lost to Become American, is a biography of the literary parents of America's most famous fictional simian. Steeped in the authors' personal, political, and publishing history, it asks how exactly two German-Jewish refugees became all-American classics. The second book project, Perfect Propaganda: Cold War Radio in the Golden Age of Television, 1950-1967, is the first transatlantic visual history of Radio Free Europe (RFE), a key broadcaster into the Eastern bloc. Here I ask, quite broadly, about what makes "perfect propaganda" and, more specifically, about some very unconventional reasons for why RFE is still being perceived - and sorely missed - as America's ideal Cold War propaganda weapon. The answer, I suggest, involves parsing the broadcaster's relationship with television in its American golden age.

To view my academic articles, please go to https://dartmouth.academia.edu/YuliyaKomska

Occasionally, I write for the media on current topics. In the past, I have published with The Washington Post, Reuters, The Guardian, Pacific Standard, The Smithsonian Magazine, Boston Review, Euronews, LA Review of Books, and Al Jazeera America and spoken on the New Hampshire Public Radio.

I teach across the German Studies curriculum (including language) and in Comparative Literature, where I am also active in M.A. advising. My teaching interests include, aside from the core German Studies courses, Cold War culture, German environmentalism, propaganda, science fiction under socialism, civic language, multilingualism and monolingualism, and belonging in Germany.

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327 Dartmouth Hall
HB 6084
Comparative Literature
German Studies
Ph.D. Cornell University
M.A. Cornell University
B.A. Colby College

Selected Publications

Yuliya Komska, Michelle Moyd, and David Gramling, Linguistic Disobedience: Restoring Power to Civic Language (Palgrave Pivot, 2018).

Yuliya Komska and Irene Kacandes, eds. Eastern Europe Unmapped: Beyond Borders and Peripheries. New York: Berghahn Books, 2017.

Yuliya Komska. The Icon Curtain: The Cold War's Quiet Border. Chicago: Chicago UP, 2015

Yuliya Komska, “Trade Publisher Archives: Repositories of Monolingualism? Houghton Mifflin and the Rejected Refugee Manuscripts in the Age of Total War,” special issue of Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies (Fall 2017): 275-296.

Yuliya Komska. “Surveillance and the Senses in a Documentary Portrait of Radio Free Europe,” in Secret Police Files from the Eastern Bloc: Between Surveillance and Life Writing, ed. Alison Lewis, Corina Petrescu, and Valentina Glajar, 201-228. New York: Camden House, 2016.

Yuliya Komska. “The Blurred Object of Communist Nostalgia: The Case of Radio Free Europe,” Twentieth Century Communism 11 (Fall 2016): 159-173.

Yuliya Komska. “Sight Radio: Radio Free Europe on Screen, 1951-1965.” In Voices of Freedom—Western Interference? 60 Years of Radio Free Europe in Munich and Prague. Ed. Anna Bischof and Zuzanna Jürgens. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015.

Yuliya Komska. “Theater at the Iron Curtain.” German Studies Review 37:1 (Winter 2014). 87-108.

Yuliya Komska. “Introduction. West Germany’s Cold War Radio: A Crucible of the Transatlantic Century.” Special issue of German Politics and Society 32:1 (Spring 2014). 1-14.

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