Professor Melissa Feinberg

Curriculum Vitae

Melissa Feinberg has been Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick since 2008. Previously she was Associate Professor (2006-2008) and Assistant Professor (2000-2006) at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She received her Ph.D from the University of Chicago in 2000. She is an editor of Aspasia, a yearbook of women's and gender history in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. She has received fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Research project at the Kolleg

In her research at the Kolleg, Melissa Feinberg will examine the contested history of fear in East-Central Europe during the Stalinist period (1948-1956). Rather than take the approach of the history of emotions, she will consider fear both as an essential element of political culture and as a component of everyday life. This research project is divided into two parts. The first will examine how the idea of a fearful East-Central Europe was created in both Eastern and Western propaganda. I will look at phenomena like show trials and the peace campaign (in the East) or the Crusade for Freedom and the publication of The Captive Mind (in the West) to illustrate how governments and the media on both sides of the Cold War divide characterized East-Central Europe as fearful and powerless. The second part will consider the complicated ways in which these messages were internalized and resisted. How did East-Central Europeans talk about their feelings of fear and powerlessness and what can these stories tell us about life in Stalinist East-Central Europe? I will particularly look at stories about the fear of informers, the fear of war and the fear of scarcity.

Main areas of research

  • History of 20th century East-Central Europe, particularly Czechoslovakia
  • Democracy, citizenship and human rights 
  • Gender history 
  • History of feminism 

Positions and Memberships

  • President, Czechoslovak Studies Association
  • Board Member, Association of Women in Slavic Studies 
  • Member, American Historical Association 
  • Member, Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies