DOI

10.1080/01463373.2019.1668444

Abstract

A mere three months after the peaceful Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, and less than a year after his last imprisonment under the communist regime, playwright-turned-president Václav Havel stood before a joint session of U.S. Congress in February of 1990. In his address, Havel marked, for his American audience, the new freedoms being established at home. More than just a victory lap, however, Havel’s visit articulated the importance of the invention of post-communism, as the end of the Cold War had to be constructed for his global audience. Havel’s version of invention in the speech used temporality and embodiment as key rhetorical materials—as he emphasized the opportune moment of the end of the Cold War, he also embodied the higher moral sense of responsibility and democratic civic culture that he believed the moment called for. However, this inventive process was understood differently by his American, European, and Czech audiences, and his attempts to transcend Cold War frames were highly contested. Havel thus became a complex symbol of the transition between the Cold War and the post-Cold War, which showed the tensions around the implementation of a “new world order.”

Document Type

Post-print Article

Publication Date

2019

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2019 Routledge. Article first published online: October 2019.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01463373.2019.1668444.

The definitive version is available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01463373.2019.1668444.

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Full Citation:

Barney, Timothy. "Václav Havel at the End of the Cold War: The Invention of Post-Communist Transition in the Address to U.S. Congress, February 21, 1990." Communication Quarterly 67, no. 5 (2019): 560-583. https://doi.org/10.1080/01463373.2019.1668444.

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