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Laying Bare: The Fate of Authorship in Early Soviet Culture

Petrov, Petre Miltchov (2007) Laying Bare: The Fate of Authorship in Early Soviet Culture. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The thesis examines the transition from post-revolutionary Soviet culture (1917-1928) to the culture of the Stalinsist period, arguing for a crucial transformation in the status of agency, subjecthood, and authorship between these two historical and cultural frames. I contend that Soviet culture has much to tell us about that momentous event of the twentieth century, the "death of author" or, more broadly, the "death of the subject"—an event that Western thought has illuminated from various perspectives (philosophy, psychoanalysis, linguistics, structural anthropology, political economy, etc.). The analysis proceeds from a consideration of prominent literary and aesthetic theories of the 1910s and 1920s—Formalism, the sociological criticism of the "Pereverzev school," the artistic platforms of left avant-garde, the ideological positions of RAPP, etc.—in an attempt to present these often divergent currents of thought and praxis as homologous, as participating in the same "act": the cultural act of modernism. Characteristic of this act, I argue, is the attempt to transcend the dimension of the individual subjective and, in this very transcendence, institute an impersonal, suprahuman objectivity. The symbolic price for reaching this state of superhuman truth is the "instrumentalization" of human agency. The concrete result of the modernist act is Stalinism: a world in which the very production of truth and reality is coterminous with the ritualistic surrender of agency and autonomy. In the thesis' second part, I discuss socialist realism as a concrete instance of this surrender, seeking to demonstrate to what extent the position of the so-called "representing subject" in socialist realism is antinomic with the notion of authorship.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Petrov, Petre Miltchovpetrov@pitt.eduPETROV
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCondee, Nancycondee@pitt.eduCONDEE
Committee MemberDobrenko,
Committee MemberBove, Paulbove@pitt.eduBOVE
Committee MemberMachamer, Peterpkmach@pitt.eduPKMACH
Committee MemberPadunov, Vladimirpadunov@pitt.eduPADUNOV
Date: 30 January 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 5 December 2007
Approval Date: 30 January 2007
Submission Date: 8 December 2006
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Slavic Languages and Literatures
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: stalinism
Other ID:, etd-12082006-013613
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:09
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:53


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