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Look Inside Love in the Time of Communism

Love in the Time of Communism
Intimacy and Sexuality in the GDR

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  • Date Published: October 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521727617

$ 36.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • In the aftermath of the reunification of Germany one former dissident recalled nostalgically that under the East German regime 'we had more sex and we had more to laugh about'. Love in the Time of Communism is a fascinating history of the GDR's forgotten sexual revolution and its limits. Josie McLellan shows that under communism divorce rates soared, abortion become commonplace and the rate of births outside marriage was amongst the highest in Europe. Nudism went from ban to state-sponsored boom, and erotica became common currency in both the official economy and the black market. Public discussion of sexuality was, however, tightly controlled and there were few opportunities to challenge traditional gender roles or sexual norms. Josie McLellan's pioneering account questions some of our basic assumptions about the relationship between sexuality, politics and society and is a major contribution to our understanding of the everyday emotional lives of postwar Europeans.

    • Unique account of the experiences of ordinary people and of how sexuality was represented under communism
    • Draws on a wide range of compelling sources from Stasi files and interviews to censorship records and private collections of erotica
    • Discusses the history of hetero- and homosexuality side by side, exploring sexuality as a whole
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    • Winner of the 2011 Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History, The Wiener Library

    Reviews & endorsements

    "An outstanding book - intriguing, illuminating, and offering entirely fresh perspectives on East German society." -Mary Fulbrook, University College London

    "Myths about sexuality in East Germany abound, and Josie McLellan takes them on. From adolescent sexuality to sexual contentment within marriage, from same-sex desire to nudism and erotica, from single motherhood to Stasi surveillance - McLellan offers a well-researched and highly accessible account. Love in the Time of Communism is an enjoyable and an informative read." -Elizabeth Heineman, author of Before Porn was Legal: The Erotica Empire of Beate Uhse

    "Sexuality in the GDR has generated intense debate since the fall of the Berlin Wall, especially concerning to what extent East Germany's "sexual revolution" diverged from its western counterpart. Josie McLellan's pioneering book offers a fresh account of the subject that goes beyond cliches and nostalgia, showing how pleasure and politics were deeply entangled in this authoritarian regime." -Paul Betts, University of Sussex

    "a meticulously crafted study." -H-Soz-u-Kult von

    "Josie McLellan's intriguing and well-written study tackles … myths and contradictory narratives, and considers the close, and at times perplexing, links between politics and society." -Times Higher Education

    "… illuminating, perceptive and well-researched."

    "An outstanding book - intriguing, illuminating, and offering entirely fresh perspectives on East German society." -Mary Fulbrook, University College London

    "McLellan, in sum, delivers superbly on her promise of a rounded history. Her book covers all major topics in the history of East German sexuality. Each chapter not only examines its theme from above and from below but discusses interactions between state policy and popular attitudes." -Donna Harsch, German History

    "McLellan’s history of East German sexuality does not engage the periodization debate." -Donna Harsch, German Studies Review

    "...a fine book indeed that leaves you thinking long after turning the last page." -Victoria Harris, European History Quarterly

    " eminently readable, remarkably comprehensive account of a sexual revolution." -Laurie Marhoefer, The Journal of Modern History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521727617
    • length: 250 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.41kg
    • contains: 21 b/w illus. 7 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: the East German sexual revolution
    2. 'A bit of freedom': sex and young people
    3. Marriage and monogamy
    4. 'The dictatorship of love': sex, love, and state hypocrisy
    5. Gay men, lesbians, and the struggle for the public sphere
    6. The naked republic: nudism
    7. Picturing sex: East German erotica
    8. Conclusion: space for love?

  • Author

    Josie McLellan, University of Bristol
    Josie McLellan is Senior Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Bristol. Her previous publications include Antifascism and Memory in East Germany: Remembering the International Brigades, 1945–1989 (2004).


    • Winner of the 2011 Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History, The Wiener Library

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