Devastation and Laughter: Satire, Power, and Culture in the Early Soviet State (1920s–1930s)
In Devastation and Laughter, Annie Gérin explores the use of satire in the visual arts, the circus, theatre, and cinema under Lenin and Stalin. Gérin traces the rise and decline of the genre and argues that the use of satire in official Soviet art and propaganda was neither marginal nor un-theorized. The author sheds light on the theoretical texts written in the 1920s and 1930s by Anatoly Lunacharsky, the Soviet Commissar of Enlightenment, and the impact his writings had on satirists. While the Avant-Garde and Socialist Realism were necessarily forward-looking and utopian, satire afforded artists the means to examine critically past and present subjects, themes, and practice. Devastation and Laughter is the first work to bring Soviet theoretical writings on the use of satire to the attention of scholars outside of Russia. By introducing important bodies of work that have largely been overlooked in the fields of art history, film and theatre history, Annie Gérin provides a nuanced and alternative reading of early Soviet art.
- Division: Scholarly Publishing
- World Rights
- Page Count: 288 pages
- Dimensions: 6.1in x 1.0in x 9.1in
"Annie Gérin compactly and lucidly summarizes the various theories of laughter in Soviet culture. Along with an account of the debates of the time, and an analysis of the rhetorical devices employed in the artistic practice, Devastation and Laughter is illustrated by aptly chosen case studies. Ranging over a wide area, this book takes a fresh approach to an important area of European cultural history, and illumines it from a new angle, inviting the reader to revise stereotypical views on the place of laughter in Russian culture of the early Soviet period."
Lesley Milne, professor emerita, Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies, University of Nottingham
"Engaging, and lively, Devastation and Laughter is a major contribution to research, and will be of interest to historians and art historians. Annie Gérin draws from many artistic disciplines to reveal the pervasiveness of 1920s and 1930s Soviet visual culture, most notably in the propaganda campaigns which took various mediums, including posters and film.
Alison Rowley, president, Canadian Association of Slavists, professor, Department of History, Concordia University
Author InformationAnnie Gérin is a professor in the Department of Art History at the Université du Québec à Montréal.
Table of contents
List of Illustrations
Transliteration, Translations, Dates
Introduction: Devastation and Laughter
1: Anatoly Lunacharsky and the Power of Laughter
2: Soviet Satirical Print Culture, a Serious Affair
3: Laughter in the Ring, in the Street and on Stage: The Emergence of a “Satirical Scene”
4: Laughter on the Silver Screen: From Satire to Optimistic Comedy
5: The Strategies and Targets of Satire
6: The Rhetorics of Satire and Socialist Realism
Appendix: “On Laughter” (1931)
Subjects and Courses