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date: 10 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Soviet “propaganda” was part of the transformative project that aspired to construct a new Soviet subject and as such aimed to enlighten at the same time that it aimed to control. This article explores the relationship between aesthetics and politics in Soviet culture by examining the problem of subjectivity in Soviet socialist realism, understood as a discursive web that enmeshed every aspect of Soviet life. A consideration of the tension between the Bolsheviks’ concern with literacy, both as a goal of their emancipatory ideology and as a measure of its success, and with the legibility of total surveillance focuses on Dziga Vertov’s Three Songs of Lenin (1934), a film whose visual rhetoric illustrates the way that Soviet socialist realism can blur the distinction between art and propaganda.

Keywords: Soviet, socialist realism, cinema, film, Dziga Vertov, legibility, subjectivity, enlightenment

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