Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Constructing Life: The Info-literary Pursuit of "How" in Early Soviet Literature, 1921-1931
by Fisher, Amanda C., Ph.D., Indiana University, 2019, 254; 13879579
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation explores the early Soviet proliferation of the info-literary mode, which combined non-literature and literature to construct life outside of text. In the 1920s, the Soviet literacy campaign and avant-gardists’ sympathetic pedagogy helped construct a prerequisite for the proliferation of this mode: the reader. With basic reading and writing becoming more common, Russian literature of all levels incorporated practical explanations of how into aesthetic narratives, especially between 1921 and 1931. In children’s informational books (chapter one), an info-literary pursuit of how things work led to the construction of workers—that is, young readers who were prepared to be future builders of Soviet society. Science fantasy journals for adults (chapter two) pursued a different how inquiry. Highlighting how to be fully creative through a scientific-literary ecosystem, these journals constructed innovators: mass readers who understood how to be both productive and creative.

With highbrow literature, this specialized combination of praxis and aesthetics, or of fact and fiction, took on a metanarrative direction: text served to explain the textual medium. Outlining how to write, formalism (chapter three) theorized on the mechanisms and construction of exemplary literary texts. Formalist theorist Shklovsky fully expanded this approach. In both his technical and his fictional works, Shklovsky further metanarrated the early Soviet how phenomenon by explicating the role that narrative played in life construction. However, it was with highbrow short stories (chapter four) that the how ethos of the early Soviet era took on its most complex form. In works by Pilniak, Olesha, and Krzhizhanovsky, the info-literary mode examined the essence of the era: how narrative constructs life. The resulting stories established prototypes of a future literature—one that responded to the 1920s dominant literary feature without fully committing to the Soviet approach. These prototypes, essentially explanatory short stories, metanarrated the textual elucidation of how stories are written while simultaneously aestheticizing the info-literary era’s construction of life. In these explanatory short stories, both the instructive method (pursuit of how) and the result of the info-literary phenomenon (construction of life) became material for art.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Emery, Jacob
Commitee: Antić, Marina, Niżyńska, Joanna, Valentino, Russell Scott
School: Indiana University
Department: Slavic Languages & Literature
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 80/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Slavic literature, Literature, Slavic Studies
Keywords: Krzhizhanovsky, Literacy campaign, Mass literature, Olesha, Pilniak, Shklovsky
Publication Number: 13879579
ISBN: 978-1-392-24548-4
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