‘Useful in the present moment’: WKU History professor wins award for book

Molly Dobberstein, News reporter

Marko Dumančić, associate professor in the WKU history department, recently won the Svetlana Boym Best Book in Cultural Studies, as awarded by the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages.

The AATSEEL is a nonprofit that continues to advance the study, as well as promote teaching of Slavic and East European languages, literatures and cultures throughout different education levels from elementary through graduate school, Dumančić said. 

His book, “Men Out of Focus: The Soviet Masculinity Crisis in the Long Sixties,” which focuses on how Soviet media, especially film, created a “masculinity crisis,” was submitted by the University of Toronto Press, Dumančić said. 

Including the whole writing process, Dumančić said he worked on the book for about a decade. 

“The crux of the book was my dissertation, and over the course of the decade I re-wrote significant parts of it and wrote entirely new chapter sections,” Dumančić said. 

He also explained the importance of the book for present day issues.

“Although the book focuses on the 1950s and 1960s, it is useful in the present moment,” Dumančić said. “The history I discuss in my book showcases that these ‘masculinity crises’ are often symptoms of larger social processes and problems.” 

Dumančić said the book focuses on the Soviet masculinity crisis, but similar versions of this event were present within the United States and Western Europe. 

“In this rapidly changing environment of the 1950s and 1960s, Soviet men began feeling lost and superfluous,” Dumančić said.

Dumančić described his process as enjoyable and found himself working on the book among colleagues and students.

“Although it was long in the making, the process was engaging, even when it was challenging,” Dumančić said. “I was particularly glad to have written large portions of the book at Spencer’s downtown in the company of colleagues and students working on their own projects.”

News reporter Molly Dobberstein can be reached at [email protected].