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This dissertation, The Red Stuff, is a history of the public and material culture of the early Soviet cosmonaut program. The public culture includes the popular culture that surrounded the Soviet cosmonauts and their public personae. The material culture comprises the artifacts that the state, enterprises and private individuals created out of this public culture. The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the origins and legacy of this cosmonaut culture. This examination contributes to the understanding of the Soviet heritage of the early 1960s, a time when official Soviet rhetoric emphasized changes from Stalinism while challenging openly its Cold War rival, the United States, in space for international prestige. Human spaceflight was an important arena in this competition. This dissertation will answer the questions, what is the Soviet Red Stuff and how well did it endure the collapse of the Soviet Union. Soviet culture of spaceflight had its origins in late imperial and early Soviet periods when writers first contemplated the utopian implications of human spaceflight through science fiction. After the revolution, film directors translated utopian and theoretical space fiction into movies. By the 1930s, only official style of science fiction was one that idealized the Stalinist image of the new Soviet man. After Stalin's death, Khrushchev was the first to recognize the propaganda utility of spaceflight and demanded high profile challenges to the United States. Space planners incorporated the cultural legacies of the 1930s to create an archetype of the modern cosmonaut. They packaged and rehearsed the public personae to create a public culture of Soviet cosmonauts in both form and content. That public culture had a firm allegiance to Khrushchev's promise of achieving communism by the 1980s. In contrast, the material culture of the space program emerged under looser control. Some designers and architects took the opportunity to revert to modernist styles. Space monuments, museums, exhibits and even the small lapel pins proliferated throughout the Soviet Union under decentralized authorities that did not answer directly to the Kremlin. However, the designers created objects that were constructivist in form, but were devoid of ideological content. While the design of memorabilia and museums were independent, the content of museums and the messages of the popular culture were not as they relied on the state for information on the program. Once the Soviet Union had exhausted its capacity to create the impression that it could successfully compete against the United States in spaceflight, its ability to manage the public culture of spaceflight evaporated as well. A series of events beginning in the mid-1960s left the public with the impression that the program that had begun with success no longer had good leadership. At the close of the decade, the United States made good on its promise to send men to the Moon, while the Soviet Union that had initiated human spaceflight seemed to be doing very little in the field. To make matters worse, the government offered no official explanation as to why they had fallen behind their rivals. When the Soviet Union went into indisputable decline and dissolved, every aspect of Soviet history was subject to harsh reevaluation. The vaulted legacy of World War II crumbled. At the time, it seemed as though the legacy of spaceflight, especially those early gains at the beginning of the decade, would be immune to the hotly contested criticism that savaged commemorations of the Great Patriotic War. The generation that came of age during the early 1960s had warm memories of the time as a unique period...
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781243462824
  • Publisher: BiblioLabsII
  • Publication date: 9/2/2011
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.21 (d)

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