Lessons from the Kremlin : folklore and children's literature in the socialization of Soviet children, 1932-1945
Manz, Lindsay F
Officially in 1934, socialist realism emerged in Soviet society as the new cultural aesthetic, providing an artistic framework for all forms of cultural production—art, music, architecture and literature. In the realm of children’s writing, socialist realism had particularly interesting effects on the themes and formulas that were utilized by authors. Though once thought to represent the tsarist and peasant past, the Party encouraged the use of traditional folk elements to popularize the new overtly Soviet tales, despite the apparent unorthodoxy. Similarly, authors were encouraged to reintroduce the hero, also seemingly unorthodox in what was a theoretically collective society. Nonetheless, heroic themes and characters emerged to recognize achievements in industry and the drive for modernization, encourage vigilance against internal and external spies and saboteurs, propagandize the Soviet war effort against Germany, and honour Soviet soldiers for their sacrifices. Soviet children’s books demonstrated to youth the communist qualities of selflessness and devotion to the collective, and about the dangers of idleness. Children learned that the Soviet Union was to be the new Soviet family, replacing the bond of blood kinship. The leader cult filtered down to children’s books and Stalin made a significant appearance as the father of all heroes. This thesis argues that the Party recognized the value of children’s literature for shaping the character development of young readers. Popular in their own right, children’s books were not able to avoid the manipulation and control of the Party, which employed them as tools of propaganda. However, it is difficult to separate the extent of their genuine popularity from their appeal as propaganda.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeVoitkovska, Ludmilla; Stewart, Larry; Jordan, Pamela