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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Art and politics in the Russian satirical press, 1905–1908
by Minin, Oleg, Ph.D., University of Southern California, 2008, 370; 3365773
Abstract (Summary)

The principal subject of inquiry in this dissertation is the satirical press of the First Russian Revolution, 1905-1906. The politically polarized satirical journals of this period are looked at as representing a constituent part of what Jürgen Habermas termed “the liberal-bourgeois public sphere” – a new socio-political environment created in Russia in the fall and winter of 1905 through a confluence of societal pressure, Tsar's edicts and government legislation.

With Habermas's emphasis on the role of the press in the evolution of bourgeois liberalism in mind, and, in particular, examining the publishing histories as well as the visual and textual content of several major Russian left and right-wing satirical journals, in this dissertation I seek to elucidate larger questions, such as how these politically diverse media forums worked to expand through image and word the boundaries of the new public space and what external conditions and intrinsic contradictions prevented them from achieving this objective.

Although the presence of the politically stratified satirical press revealed the healthy workings of the newly opened public sphere capable of accommodating such competing critical discourses, I argue that its stability and, indeed, legitimacy, were continuously challenged not only by the autocratic state but, paradoxically, by the satirical press itself. Closely modeling their discourses on radical monarchist dogma, the right-wing satirical journals hindered the advancement in Russia of the liberal-bourgeois public sphere by denying some of its key elements through their ridicule of bourgeois parliamentarism, constitutionalism and, in certain respects, the capitalist market.

At the same time, the overly critical and unbending oppositional stance occupied vis-à-vis the tsarist state by the liberal-bourgeois and revolutionary satirical journals, like that of the left-wing political opposition, outweighed other, potentially more constructive forms of satirical journalism. Characteristic of the left-wing press as a whole and of the select journals explored in this study, such a stance presented an earlier example of what Louise McReynolds gauged as the Russian intelligentsia and the post-1905 periodical press retreating to a position of “a moral high ground” precluding both from finding compromises with the regime, and, ultimately, failing to secure the achievements of Russia's incipient bourgeois liberalism.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bowlt, John E.
Commitee: Levitt, Marcus C., Rorlich, Azade-Ayse
School: University of Southern California
Department: Slavic Languages and Literatures
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Slavic literature, Art history, Journalism
Keywords: Caricatures, First Russian revolution, Left-wing satirical press, Political satire, Public sphere, Right-wing satirical press, Satirical press
Publication Number: 3365773
ISBN: 978-1-109-26004-5
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