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SUNY Potsdam Professor Publishes Book on Cold War Satire

08.25.11

Dr. Derek C. Maus, an associate professor in SUNY Potsdam’s Department of English and Communication, recently released a book, “Unvarnishing Reality: Subversive Russian and American Cold War Satire.”

Published by the University of South Carolina Press, it is one of a handful of book-length comparisons of works by both Russian and American writers, and the first book-length study to compare literary works by writers from both the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

“Unvarnishing Reality” illustrates the paranoia of nuclear standoff as providing a subversive storytelling mode for authors from both nations. Maus surveys the background of each nation’s culture, language, sociology, politics and philosophy to map the foundation on which Cold War satire was built.

Just as the Cold War combatants ultimately reconciled in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union, Maus seeks to bring these two literary canons together now. Their thematic scope transcends cultural differences, and as Maus demonstrates, these writers saw that there was not only the atomic bomb to fear, but also the dangers of complete national militarization and the constant polarizing threat of emergency. Thus their critiques still resonate today and invite further comparative studies.

Having received a bachelor’s degree in history and English from the University of Arkansas, and a master’s and Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina, Maus has taught more than 30 different courses in 10 years at SUNY Potsdam, covering a range of topics including the Cold War, folklore, religion in literature, immigration and exile, and science fiction. He is currently at work on a book-length overview of Colson Whitehead’s work, as well as co-editing (with James J. Donahue, also of SUNY Potsdam’s Department of English and Communication) a collection of scholarly articles on contemporary African-American satire.

To find out more about “Unvarnishing Reality,” visit http://www.sc.edu/uscpress/books/2011/3985.html.

SUNY Potsdam’s Department of English & Communication challenges students to complete a core of courses that explore the varied ways people write, speak and read. To find out more about its rigorous curriculum, visit www.potsdam.edu/academics/aas/engl.

Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the beautiful Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training and leadership in the performing and visual arts.

Media contact:

Alexandra Jacobs Wilke, Office of Public Affairs,
(315) 267-2918