Automatic for the Masses: The Death of the Author and the Birth of Socialist Realism
At the end of the 1920s, the Modernist and avant-garde artistic programmes of the early Soviet Union were swept away by the rise of Stalinism and the dictates of Socialist Realism. Did this aesthetic transition also constitute a conceptual break, or were there unseen continuities between these two movements? In Automatic for the Masses, Petre M. Petrov offers a novel, theoretically informed account of that transition, tracing those connections through Modernist notions of agency and authorship.
Reading the statements and manifestos of the Formalists, Constructivists, and other Soviet avant-garde artists, Petrov argues that Socialist Realism perpetuated in a new form the Modernist “death of the author.” In interpreting this symbolic demise, he shows how the official culture of the 1930s can be seen as a perverted realization of modernism’s unrealizable project. An insightful and challenging interpretation of the era, Automatic for the Masses will be required reading for those interested in understanding early Soviet culture.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 328 pages
- Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.0in x 9.3in
‘This provocative monograph, with its thorough scholarship, original argument, and witty writing, should appeal to students of European and Soviet modernism as well as specialists in cultural history and theory.’
The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review vol 44:2017
“Automatic for the Masses is a cogent, informative, and perceptive discussion of the author’s proverbial death in early Soviet culture and socialist realism. The theoretical thrust of the book is both compelling and groundbreaking – like any good theorist should do, Petrov makes complex ideas seem straightforward and clear.”
Tim Harte, Department of Russian, Bryn Mawr College
“Automatic for the Masses takes a refreshingly original approach to the study of socialist realism. Sophisticated and savvy, it is a must read for all with a serious interest in Soviet culture.”
Katerina Clark, Department of Comparative Literature and Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Yale University
Author InformationPetre M. Petrov is an assistant professor of Russian at the University of Texas at Austin.
Table of contents
1. The Imperative of Artistic Form
2. The Imperative of Social Content
4. Demanding Objecthood
5. Demanding Subjecthood
6. The Anonymous Center
7. The Unbearable Light of Being
8. Ideology as Authentication
9. The Blind, the Seeing, and the Shiny
10. Life Happens
Subjects and Courses