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A Cultural Analysis of the Russo-Soviet Anekdot

Graham, Seth (2004) A Cultural Analysis of the Russo-Soviet Anekdot. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This is a study of the cultural significance and generic specificity of the Russo-Soviet joke (in Russian, anekdot [pl. anekdoty]). My work departs from previous analyses by locating the genre's quintessence not in its formal properties, thematic taxonomy, or structural evolution, but in the essential links and productive contradictions between the anekdot and other texts and genres of Russo-Soviet culture. The anekdot's defining intertextuality is prominent across a broad range of cycles, including those based on popular film and television narratives, political anekdoty, and other cycles that draw on more abstract discursive material. Central to my analysis is the genre's capacity for reflexivity in various senses, including generic self-reference (anekdoty about anekdoty), ethnic self-reference (anekdoty about Russians and Russian-ness), and critical reference to the nature and practice of verbal signification in more or less implicit ways.The analytical and theoretical emphasis of the dissertation is on the years 1961-86, incorporating the Stagnation period plus additional years that are significant in the genre's history. That quarter-century span in the USSR saw not only the coagulation of a way of life that provided ample fodder for oral satire, but also the appearance of a series of texts that provided source material for the topical anekdot cycles that to this day constitute a large portion of the Russian jokelore corpus. Before turning to the Soviet-period anekdot, I discuss the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century distinction between the literary or historical anekdot - a written genre not reliant on humor and in which real-life people figured - and the traditional folk anekdot, an offshoot of the folktale. The twentieth-century anekdot represented a confluence of its folkloric and inscribed forebears, combining features of (and effectively superseding) both traditions. By the 1960s, the attributes and functions the genre had accrued over the course of its development began to resonate with the underlying tropes, conflicts, and values of the society to such a degree that the anekdot became a kind of "genre-laureate" of the age. The dissertation concludes with an examination of the post-censorship anekdot, and a contextualization of the genre in the larger cultural atmosphere of contemporary Russia.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCondee, Nancycondee@pitt.eduCONDEE
Committee MemberMacCabe, Colinmaccabe@pitt.eduMACCABE
Committee MemberGoscilo, Helenagoscilo@pitt.eduGOSCILO
Committee MemberLipovetsky,
Committee MemberPadunov, Vladimir padunov@pitt.eduPADUNOV
Date: 16 January 2004
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 8 September 2003
Approval Date: 16 January 2004
Submission Date: 3 November 2003
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: folk humor; popular culture
Other ID:, etd-11032003-192424
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:03
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:51


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