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Title:Porno Ludens: Soviet literary pornography, 1970s – 1990s
Author(s):Savic, Jasmina
Director of Research:Kaganovsky, Lilya
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kaganovsky, Lilya
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Sobol, Valeria; Cooper, David; Borenstein, Eliot
Department / Program:Slavic Languages & Literature
Discipline:Slavic Languages & Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):pornography, sex, erotica, socialist realism, controversy, dialogue, play, postmodernism, sots-art, Jewish
Abstract:My dissertation, “Porno Ludens: Soviet Literary Pornography, 1970s – 1990s,” traces the emergence of Russian literary pornography as a counter discourse to Socialist Realism and official Soviet ideology during the late Soviet period. While influential studies of Russian sexuality have focused on the eroticism of early twentieth century literature and art or, conversely, on the post-Soviet proliferation of obscenity, my dissertation takes the “interim” period, roughly between 1970 and 1990, as a site for the emergence of a new pornographic language in underground, dissident, and émigré literature, countering the “no sex in the USSR” discourse of official Soviet ideology. The dissertation traces the development of Russian sexual discourse in Soviet literature, broadening our understanding of late Soviet culture to include that which is usually excluded: sexually explicit language that runs the gamut from eroticism to pornography. In the 1970s and 1980s, literary pornography arose as the antipode to puritan Soviet literature and culture. A plethora of vulgarisms and obscene words invaded literature and permitted the writers to design a new poetics of pornography as an anti-Socialist Realist style. Literary pornography appeared as a peculiar kind of freedom that allowed writers to break the taboos of sex, to liberate the Russian language and culture from the fetters of Soviet ideology, and to place themselves in opposition to the restrictive methods and discourses of official Soviet culture. In the early 1990s, Russian national identity and national pride were to be rediscovered and redefined through pornography, with the porno aesthetics of the last two decades of the Soviet state serving as a model. My project is structured as a comparative study of Russian literary pornography written both in the USSR and in the US—a case study of four authors: Edward Limonov and Mikhail Armalinsky as “pornographers in exile;” and Viktor Erofeev and Vladimir Sorokin as “pornographers at home.” By putting these four writers in dialogue, I accentuate that pornographic literature appears as an alternative truth-carrying discursive practice in which diverse cultural and semiotic meanings are produced in and understood as a game. The writers strive to make of pornography a personal project recording their private life, traumas, and struggles, which is both entertaining and terrifying. The skeleton of late-Soviet literary pornography is the play pattern of how to live and write porn simultaneously.
Issue Date:2019-12-01
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Jasmina Savic
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-03-02
Date Deposited:2019-12

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