On Comradely Persuasion and the Discursive Practice of Soviet Thought, 1953-1958




Ruch, Julie Ella

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In the annals of Soviet historiography, discord and rebellion mark the cultural form of the “Khrushchev Thaw.” Following the U.S.S.R.’s loss of its Great Leader in 1953, a diffusion of political authority met a re-evaluation of established ideology; the dominant discourse of Soviet socialism shifted and, through the subsequent clash of orthodox and liberal forces, imparted a critical aesthetic to 1950s Soviet culture. But while the narrative of dissonance privileged by most historical texts cites the sharpness of post-Stalinist art, poetry, and literature as external evidence of a struggle, little attention has been paid to the internal logic of cultural production. Soviet cultural communication based itself on a mutual mythology that pursued both a dialogue of inclusivity and a sense of accountability. By re-examining how producers of culture managed their responsibilities to the state, to the public, and to their art against the Soviet ideal of the collective and its discourse of comradely persuasion, this thesis pursues the expression of Soviet thought by way of Soviet ideology in the malleable discourse of 1953-1958.



modern history, soviet history, post-stalinism, khrushchev thaw