Performing Justice: Agitation Trials in Early Soviet Russia

Performing Justice: Agitation Trials in Early Soviet Russia

by Elizabeth A. Wood
     
 

ISBN-10: 0801442575

ISBN-13: 9780801442575

Pub. Date: 06/28/2005

Publisher: Cornell University Press

After seizing power in 1917, the Bolshevik regime faced the daunting task of educating and bringing culture to the vast and often illiterate mass of Soviet soldiers, workers, and peasants. As part of this campaign, civilian educators and political instructors in the military developed didactic theatrical fictions performed in workers' and soldiers' clubs in the years…  See more details below

Overview

After seizing power in 1917, the Bolshevik regime faced the daunting task of educating and bringing culture to the vast and often illiterate mass of Soviet soldiers, workers, and peasants. As part of this campaign, civilian educators and political instructors in the military developed didactic theatrical fictions performed in workers' and soldiers' clubs in the years from 1919 to 1933. The subjects addressed included politics, religion, agronomy, health, sexuality, and literature. The trials were designed to permit staging by amateurs at low cost, thus engaging the citizenry in their own remaking. In reconstructing the history of the so-called agitation trials and placing them in a rich social context, Elizabeth A. Wood makes a major contribution to rethinking the first decade of Soviet history. Her book traces the arc by which a regime's campaign to educate the masses by entertaining and disciplining them culminated in a policy of brute shaming.Over the course of the 1920s, the nature of the trials changed, and this process is one of the main themes of the later chapters of Wood's book. Rather than humanizing difficult issues, the trials increasingly made their subjects (alcoholics, boys who smoked, truants) into objects of shame and dismissal. By the end of the decade and the early 1930s, the trials had become weapons for enforcing social and political conformity. Their texts were still fictional—indeed, fantastical—but the actors and the verdicts were now all too real.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801442575
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
06/28/2005
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
312
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

1A question of origins15
2Experimental trials in the Red Army, 1919-2037
3The trial of Lenin57
4Teaching politics through trials, 1921-2368
5The culture of everyday life, 1922-2485
6Melodrama in the service of science105
7The trial of the new woman128
8The crisis in the clubs and the erosion of the public sphere150
9Shaming the boys who smoke cigarettes174
10Fiction becomes indistinguishable from reality, 1928-33193

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