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Blackledge, Olga (2018) ANIMATED STATES: THE POLITICS, AESTHETICS, AND TECHNOLOGY OF SOVIET AND GERMAN CEL ANIMATION, 1930-1940. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation compares animation industries in the USSR and Germany during the 1930s and 1940s. The industrial turn in animation production that took place in both countries at the time was aesthetically and technologically inspired by American animators Walt Disney and the Fleischer brothers. Two studios, Soiuzmul’tfil’m and Deutsche Zeichenfilm GmbH, founded in the USSR and Germany, respectively, adopted the conveyer method based on the celluloid (“cel”) technique. While considering the historical context in both nations during these years, this project explores the politics and aesthetics of Soviet and German industrial animation through governmental and film company archives, as well as trade papers, and through a close analysis of four films: Kino-Tsirk: Mul’t-satira v 3-kh atraktsionakh (Soiuzmul’tfil’m, 1942), Koniok-gorbunok (Soiuzmul’tfil’m, 1947), Der Störenfried (Bavaria Filmkunst, 1940), and Armer Hansi (DZF, 1943).
Although politically and aesthetically there were many similarities between the USSR during Stalin’s rule and Nazi Germany—in particular, the rise of nationalism and the official endorsement of some form of realism—and although both animation industries followed in footsteps of American animation, the animated films created in both countries differ aesthetically and politically. After a brief period of pursuing production of entertaining animated film, Soviet animation returned to the politics of education and utilized traditional Russian and modernist art, while Nazi animation was predominantly concerned with entertainment, and leaned towards a more naturalistic (or hyper-realistic) Disneyan imagery.
Through analysis of how industrial cel animation of the period negotiated contingent and temporally-bound political and aesthetic discourses, how it adapted to them, and interpreted them, I also consider broader questions about relationships among media, technology, politics, and aesthetics, which advances an understanding of animation as a specific medium. After all, animation is a medium connected not to the physical reality, but to other art forms, which complicates its indexicality and, as such, makes it an intermedial medium, i.e., a site of preservation, connection, and transformation of other arts. Industrialized Soviet and Nazi animation serve to intermediate prior and current forms of dance, graphic arts, music, and print culture into new convergences that aligned with both countries’ nationalistic aims.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Blackledge, Olgaolb11@gmail.comolb11
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairRonald,
Committee MemberNancy,
Committee MemberLucy,
Committee MemberRandall,
Committee MemberBrent,
Date: 26 September 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 3 May 2018
Approval Date: 26 September 2018
Submission Date: 16 August 2018
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 394
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: animation, Soviet animation, German animation, industrial animation, politics, aesthetics, technology, Disney, the Fleischers
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2018 21:40
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2023 05:15


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