Diana Cucuz, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto and Toronto Metropolitan University
This presentation will discuss how print culture, or “polite propaganda” was utilized to deploy images of supposedly happy American women as feminine wives, mothers and homemakers living under a capitalistic consumer culture. Through magazines such as the Ladies’ Home Journal and Amerika, the latter distributed in the Soviet Union, the U.S. government hoped to convince American women and Russian “babushkas” of the superiority of the American way of life and in the process, undermine a Soviet regime that promoted “gender equality” in place of the “special status” of American women. More broadly, it sheds light on the significance of women, gender, and consumption to international politics during the Cold War. Analyzing the Cold War through this unique lens reveals a broader U.S. foreign policy approach which sought to gradually destabilize the Soviet government not just through political and military means, but also through cultural diplomacy.
-- Speaker Bio --
Diana Cucuz specializes in American, women’s and cultural history and the intersections of foreign and domestic policy, and politics and culture. Her research focuses on the post-World War II era, and in particular the ways in which the U.S. government and media politicized women, traditional gender roles and consumer culture during the early Cold War. Her first book, Winning Women’s Hearts and Minds (University of Toronto Press), will be released in February 2023. She is currently working on a second book, on the American National Exhibition which took place in Moscow during the summer of 1959. Dr. Cucuz holds a PhD from York University and teaches at the University of Toronto and Toronto Metropolitan University.