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Title:Technologies of gender: Soviet literature and film in the 1920s and 1930s
Author(s):Filipovic, Marina
Director of Research:Kaganovsky, Lilya
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kaganovsky, Lilya
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Murav, Harriet; Gasyna, George; Turnock, Julie
Department / Program:Slavic Languages & Literature
Discipline:Slavic Languages & Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Soviet literature
Soviet cinema
Russian literature
Socialist Realism
Abstract:My dissertation, “Technologies of Gender: Soviet Literature and Film in the 1920s and 1930s,” examines the vital role technology and machines – both actual and imagined – play in defining the ‘new Soviet man’ and ‘new Soviet woman’ in early Soviet culture. As I argue in my dissertation, the period of the 1920s and 1930s witnesses a radical change in the perception of physicality brought about by new technology. My project elucidates how the rise of technology and technological discourse in Soviet culture remakes the body and reconfigures traditional gender roles, producing a Soviet cyborg (in Donna Haraway’s terms), first male, then female. In the twenties, in order to combat mortality and render the body perfect, male authors engage in writing about sophisticated technologies based on experimental scientific and medical research (as in Pilnyak’s 1928 A Matter of Death and Platonov’s 1927 The Ethereal Tract). These technocratic utopian imaginings introduce the cyborg that has overcome all mortal constraints, including biological procreation (Platonov). While in the predominantly male avant-garde culture women’s role and access to technology are reduced, I show that in socialist realist texts and films of the 1930s, the reverse takes place: women instead of men now have a privileged relationship to machines. Women artists and workers contest the hyper-masculinist culture and through female cyborgism remap their bodies and consciousness to create their own feminist politics (Shaginian’s 1931 novel The Hydroelectric Plant, Shub’s 1932 film K.Sh.E., and Pasha Angelina’s all-female tractor brigade). The official culture of the thirties refashions itself in the feminine idiom to demonstrate that the never-ending advancement under Stalin exceeds the revolutionary achievements of the 1920s. This obsession leads to the creation of the Soviet heroine of labor, the female cyborg embodied in the image of the woman at the tractor wheel riding into the bright future, the ultimate symbol of transformed Stalinist technocratic society (as in Eisenstein’s General Line (1929), Pyriev’s Tractor Drivers (1939), and Alexandrov’s Bright Path (1940). The project considers both well-known and lesser-known writers/texts and films. At stake is a new way of looking at both literature and cinema of the 1920s-1930s from the point of view of gender technologies and technologies of gender.
Issue Date:2019-07-02
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Marina Filipovic
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-11-26
Date Deposited:2019-08

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