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Varga-Harris publishes monograph on Soviet apartment life

Stories of House and Home

The cover of “Stories of House and Home.”

Department of History Associate Professor Christine Varga-Harris’ impressively researched and elegantly written monograph, Stories of House and Home: Soviet Apartment Life during the Khrushchev Years, has just been published by Cornell University Press.

Varga-Harris demonstrates that housing was a metaphor for the building of Communism and argues that the restructuring of byt (daily life) in the Soviet Union “was a key signifier of the Thaw.” Both the state and populace regarded the quotidian drive for decent one-family apartments as essential to the construction of a “viable socialist society” after Stalin.

Her “splendid book” (Stephen Bittner) “illuminates the linkages, real and imagined, between single-family homes and the morals, tastes, and lifestyles of an emergent ‘socialist way of life’” (Julie Hessler).