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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Beau monde State and Stage on Empire's Edge, Russia and Soviet Ukraine, 1916-1941 Volume I
by Fowler, Mayhill Courtney, Ph.D., Princeton University, 2011, 383; 3463331
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation traces how the involvement of officials in the arts, and of artists in the state, shaped both the arts and the state in interwar Soviet Ukraine through the story of Oleksandr “Les” Kurbas (1887-1937), a Ruthenian theater director from Austro-Hungarian Galicia who moved to Kyiv during World War I and participated in an artistic revolution. Kurbas belonged to a beau monde, a milieu of both artists and officials circulating in the theaters, cafés, apartments, editorial offices, and prisons of interwar Soviet Ukraine while creating culture both Soviet and Ukrainian. Kurbas' Ukrainian-language theater dominated the cultural landscape of early Soviet Ukraine, but he and his colleagues were arrested and sent to the gulag in the early 1930s; then he, his colleagues and the Party-State officials who had arrested them were all shot in the late 1930s. The Soviet takeover of Galicia at the start of World War II revealed how the beau monde had been transformed with the full absorption of artists into officialdom. More broadly, the shared Soviet and nationalists' agendas of separating theater artists and audiences by ethnos managed to inhibit, rather than encourage, cultural efflorescence. Soviet Ukraine, home to a kind of lingering imperial explosion in the arts in the 1920s, never amounted to more than a province – artistically and politically – by the late 1930s, despite all efforts to the contrary. Ultimately, my dissertation argues that the crucial factor for creativity may not be primarily the degree of freedom accorded by a state, but rather the meaning ascribed to art by officials, audiences, and artists. While innovation, whether scientific or artistic, is possible in conditions of un-freedom, dissolving the boundary between artists and officialdom limits the possibilities of the imagination.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kotkin, Stephen
School: Princeton University
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 72/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Slavic Studies, Political science, Theater History, Russian history
Keywords: Artists, Nationalists, Soviet culture, Soviet history, Ukraine, Ukraine-culture, Ukraine-history
Publication Number: 3463331
ISBN: 978-1-124-73521-4
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