Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Feast in the time of terror: Stalinist temporal paradox and the 1937 Pushkin Jubilee
by Platt, Jonathan Brooks, Ph.D., Columbia University, 2008, 459; 3317656
Abstract (Summary)

In February 1937, the Soviet Union observed the centenary of Alexander Pushkin's death. The jubilee was a giant performance, a great display of the burgeoning national culture and social unity. "Feast in the Time of Terror" examines the conceptual foundations of this central event in the history of Stalinism. The study's focus is the complex attitude to time exhibited in the rhetoric and imagery of the jubilee. "Feast" offers a rich case history to illuminate the importance of attitudes to time in national culture formation, exploring how the commemoration of Pushkin revealed the temporal foundations of the Soviet national community as it was imagined in the 1930s.

"Feast" treats the sundry texts and images from the jubilee that it examines as parts of an aesthetic totality or Gesamtkunstwerk. Tensions in the various attitudes to time expressed are seen as aesthetically functional ambiguities, reflecting the deliberate use of paradoxical conceptual forms. "Feast" argues that the jubilee fused continuist and disjunctive temporalities, preserving the iconoclastic ethos of revolution while incorporating a new monumentalism that supported the goals of social unity and modernization.

The close readings of jubilee materials in "Feast" recall the methods of cognitive linguistics and the theory of conceptual blending. Motifs and metaphors appear as the results of a dynamic process of generating, elaborating, and combining a range of semantic frames. "Feast" also makes use of Mikhail Bakhtin's concept of the chronotope—the spatial representation of time in culture—both as a theoretical construct and an object of analysis.

Stalinist temporal paradox is explored in the context of four cultural historical narratives: the temporal shift of modernity as described by thinkers such as Henri Bergson, Walter Benjamin, and Reinhart Koselleck, and its role in the rise of nationalism (Benedict Anderson and Homi Bhabha); changing Marxist interpretations of Pushkin in the 1920s and 1930s; the history of public monuments of Pushkin, including the motif of the living statue; and the shifting methodologies of Soviet literature pedagogy and its approach to the Russian classics.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gasparov, Boris
School: Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 69/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature, Slavic literature, Russian history
Keywords: Chronotope, Nationalism, Pushkin Jubilee, Soviet history, Stalinism, Time
Publication Number: 3317656
ISBN: 978-0-549-65752-1
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