This Thing of Darkness, a book by Dr Joan Neuberger on Sergei Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible

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  1. This episode we speak with Joan Neuberger, author of the new book, This Thing of Darkness: Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible in Stalin’s Russia. Joan Neuberger is Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. She has written extensively in print and online about Eisenstein, film, and modern Russian cultural history. We spoke to Joan about what makes Ivan the Terrible one of the greatest films of all time, what Eisenstein’s unpublished diaries and manuscripts tell us about his true intentions with the film, and what specific political messages he wanted to convey the audience. Watch Ivan the Terrible on YouTube: As a loyal listener to the podcast we’d like to offer you a special 30% discount on Joan’s book. To receive your discount please go to and use the promo code 09POD. If you live in the UK use the discount code CSANNOUNCE and visit the website
  2. On this episode we have the privilege of speaking with History professor and Eisenstein expert Dr. Joan Neuberger who among many things is also co-host and co-creator of 15-Minute History podcast and the public history project Not Even Past. ABOUT THE GUEST: Dr. Neuberger received her PhD from Stanford University in 1985. She is currently a professor in the History Department at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Neuberger studies modern Russian culture in social and political context, with a focus on the politics of the arts. She is the author of an eclectic range of publications, including Hooliganism: Crime and Culture in St Petersburg, 1900-1914 (California: 1993), Ivan the Terrible: The Film Companion (Palgrave: 2003); co-author of Europe and the Making of Modernity, 1815-1914 (Oxford: 2005); and co-editor of Imitations of Life: Melodrama in Russia (Duke: 2001) and Picturing Russia: Explorations in Visual Culture (Yale: 2008); Everyday Life in Russian History: Quotidian Studies in Honor of Daniel Kaiser (Slavica, 2010); and The Flying Carpet: Studies on Eisenstein in Honor of Naum Kleiman (Mimésis International. 2017). Her most recent book is This Thing of Darkness: Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible in Stalin’s Russia (Cornell: 2019). We encourage you to check out her public history site, Not Even Past, and also the related podcast "15-Minute History" at which she co-hosts and co-founded. Both are great and fun resources! NOTE: This episode was recorded on February 21, 2020 at the University of Texas at Austin. Thanks for listening and if you like us and support open academic programming, please take a second to rate the show on Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, or on our Facebook page. We so appreciate your support!! CREDITS Co-Producer: Tom Rehnquist (Connect: Co-Producer: Matthew Orr (Connect: Logistics/Assistant Producer: Cullan Bendig Associate Producer: Lera Toropin Associate Producer: Samantha Farmer Associate Producer: Milena D-K Supervising Producer: Kathryn Yegorov-Crate Production Assistant: Luis Camarena Executive Editor/Music Producer: Charlie Harper (Connect: Instagram: @charlieharpermusic) Executive Producer & Creator: Michelle Daniel (Connect: Instagram: @michelledaniel86) DISCLAIMER: The views expressed on this episode do not necessarily reflect those of the show or the University of Texas at Austin.Special Guest: Joan Neuberger.
  3. Most of the time, this podcast focuses on the products of those who create historical fiction—specifically, novels. But what goes into producing a work of historical fiction—especially in a dictatorship where the wrong choice, or even the right choice at the wrong moment, can send the unwitting author to the Gulag? And what if the creator is not an unknown toiling in the dark to produce manuscripts “for the desk drawer,” as the Soviet literati used to say, but the nation’s foremost filmmaker operating at the personal behest of Joseph Stalin? Such is the dilemma that faces Sergei Eisenstein in 1941, when he begins his unfinished trilogy Ivan the Terrible, an epic ordered by the Soviet government to glorify the Russian past and justify state terror.Often written off, especially in the West, as a toady to Stalin, Eisenstein—as Joan Neuberger nimbly shows in her new and fascinating study, This Thing of Darkness: Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible in Stalin’s Russia (Cornell University Press, 2019)—approached his complicated and risky project with a mixture of enthusiasm and caution. Over the course of five years, despite complaints about budget overflows and production delays, through exile and war and shifts in the party line, personal conflicts and health problems, Eisenstein skillfully alternated between tactics of submission and defiance in support of his idiosyncratic but richly textured portrayal of a tortured autocrat whose childhood traumas led him to ever more extreme exercises of power, even as his excesses stripped him of friends and family, leaving him alone against the endless, unstoppable waves—of progress? of the future? of his own battered conscience? Only the viewer can decide.Part I won the Stalin Prize, the USSR’s highest honor, although not without controversy. Stalin personally banned Part II before release, and Eisenstein died with Part III unfinished. In this master work about a master filmmaker, Neuberger shines a light on all three. In doing so, she highlights the many decisions any author must make while balancing historical accuracy against dramatic potential and character motivation against a verifiable past. Fortunately, for most of us the stakes are nowhere near as high as they were for Sergei Eisenstein.C. P. Lesley is the author of nine novels, including Legends of the Five Directions (The Golden Lynx, The Winged Horse, The Swan Princess, The Vermilion Bird, and The Shattered Drum), a historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible, and Song of the Siren, published in 2019. Find out more about her at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
  4. Guest: Joan Neuberger on This Thing of Darkness: Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible in Stalin's Russia published by Cornell University Press. The post Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible appeared first on SRB Podcast.

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