The Cold War looms large in the history of the 20th century and is often conceptualized in terms of superpower politics, diplomacy, and power plays. By focusing on the conflicting superpowers, this narrative sidelines the countries and citizens of Eastern Europe, framing them as mere pawns in the grand game played by the Soviet Union and the United States. But how did ordinary Eastern Europeans experience the Cold War? How did their actions and attitudes shape the larger conflict and propel national and international events in new directions? How did they understand their lives, loyalties, and roles as denizens of the socialist bloc? This seminar explores these questions by examining the Cold War from below. After establishing the key ideological divides that took hold after WWII, we will investigate the perspectives of a variety of ordinary actors, from journalists to working mothers to small town residents. We will also examine the role of “soft power” subjects like consumerism, gender norms, and cultural exchange, considering both how the superpowers attempted to use them to shape citizens’ attitudes and how those citizens responded. Finally, we will explore the part played by the masses in bringing the Cold War to a close. Over the course of the semester, we will develop our understanding of Eastern Europeans as players in their own right and rehabilitate their active role during a period of European history that continues to influence events today.