Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Killing culture two: Toward an anatomy of cultural transformation in early Soviet Russia, 1920s–1930s
by Gilman, Christopher James, Ph.D., University of Southern California, 2011, 396; 3466002
Abstract (Summary)

Wholesale changes in Soviet Russian culture during the 1920s and 1930s have most commonly been characterized as symptomatic of a social transformation in society caused by a political agent, such as Stalin, or force, such as class struggle. An alternative model for understanding cultural transformation during this period and others in Russian and Soviet history is provided by Vladimir Paperny in Kul'tura dva. Paperny applies semiotic theory and a structure of binary pairings to describe the history of early Soviet culture as the alternation of two opposing systems of meaning, what he calls "Culture One" and "Culture Two."

The present work represents an effort to update Paperny's original thesis by revisiting his theoretical premises from an historical perspective, and supplementing them with findings from contemporary and recent research in the cognitive sciences. The semiotic interpretive model is called into question as an objective metadescription because it derives from the same socio-historical circumstances as the cultural phenomena to which it is applied. Instead, both culture and theory are treated in mutual interaction, and a new thesis is forwarded to account for their relationship. The transformation in early Soviet Culture that Paperny describes in semiotic terms as binary oppositions finds its cause in the chiastic reversal of dominance or "flip" between two complementary and mutually inhibitive patterns of cognition associated in individuals with left hemisphere and right hemisphere brain activity. The analysis focuses on transformative elements used in the culture to trigger a switch in cognitive patterns individually and thereby effect a general transformation in disseminated culture collectively. It contrasts the notions of byt (being, existence) and veshch' (thing), which were perceived by intellectuals as endemic of socio-cultural inertia among the general population, to ostensive representations and demonstrations of killing, which were deployed as an emotional motivating force for change.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Zholkovsky, Alexander
Commitee: Anderson, Steve, Levitt, Marcus
School: University of Southern California
Department: Slavic Languages & Literatures
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 72/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Slavic literature, Art history, Russian history
Keywords: Cultural transformation, Economic policy, Killing, New economic policy, Russia, Russian art, Russian linguistics, Russian literature, Soviet culture
Publication Number: 3466002
ISBN: 978-1-124-78741-1
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