Images of Intelligentsia in Soviet Visual Culture

Hela, Oksana. Images of Intelligentsia in Soviet Visual Culture. Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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Bearing in mind the origin of many representatives of the intelligentsia (especially in the initial period of the history of the USSR), its ideological heterogeneity and the desire for individualism, the intelligentsia has repeatedly become the object of repression, humiliation and ideological control. Among the propaganda tools were also visual materials - cartoons, which were contained in the official state press - satirical magazines. Materials published in party publications, regardless of style, often had the meaning of a direct order. Thus, the main goal of the satirical magazines of the Soviet Union was not to cheer up readers, but to construct models of the behavior of a Soviet person in his professional and private life through ridiculing deviant, according to ideologists, forms of behavior. Satirical magazines as printed by organs of the Central Committee of the Communist Party were supposed to be an "ideological weapon" that fights "shortcomings of society" and "enemies". It was precisely such a place and tasks that were assigned to the press by Stalin.
My dissertational research covers the images of the entire Soviet intelligentsia, precisely – the European part of the Soviet Union in the period from 1922 to 1991: the Byelorussian, Russian, Ukrainian and Estonian SSR.
A caricature is a rather complex construct that, by ridiculing certain shortcomings, creates a special reality. Its main goal is to broadcast a certain idea, and not to display the existing reality. Therefore, in this sense, we can call a caricature a simulacrum.
Based on this idea, the “special” world of caricature requires a special “reading”. The uniqueness of the pictorial language of caricature is due to the close combination of iconic elements (signs-images) with phraseological units. The latter are based on the deep cultural codes of a particular society. That is, the graphic and verbal components of cartoons are closely related to socio-cultural, ideological and other codes, which include iconic, conventional, "mimic-graphic" signs (marked gestures and movements of the character). Since a caricature is an image of ideas, there are special channels for transmitting information that broadcast certain figurative, subject and spatio-temporal situational contexts. These contexts or "worlds" form as a result an idea that is read by the recipient and perceived as something integral. “The world of the image/work” is a multidimensional, artistically reproduced reality. The most significant elements of this world are characters, which, in combination with situational contexts, form plots and/or images. The macrocosm includes what is called the "components of representation (artistic objectivity)": "the world of ideas", "the world of things", "artistic space", "portrait of characters". An artist-cartoonist can either use both one channel of information or combine them with each other.
Despite the fact that the intelligentsia, according to the well-known formula “2+1”, was not attributed to a separate class of Soviet society, however, in the cartoons we can talk about the allocatåion of a special place for this “stratum”, where those who worked in intellectual professions are opposed to workers and peasants. During the period under study, caricature art was aimed at creating the image of a single Soviet people without national, and in some periods, class differences (an attempt to blur the boundaries between workers, peasants and intelligentsia). Despite the above-mentioned dominant accents of the Soviet metanarrative, we can detect many cultural and value differences in various images of the Soviet intelligentsia.
Advisors:Palko, Olena
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Geschichte > Bereich Osteuropäische Geschichte
UniBasel Contributors:Palko, Olena
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis status:Ongoing
Last Modified:05 Apr 2023 04:30
Deposited On:04 Apr 2023 08:35

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