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11. Socialist Realism and Stasis

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Chapter Summary

This chapter looks beyond scholastic patterns and draws attention to the problem of dynamics and statics within Stalinist culture itself. It focuses on the stylistic forms of this unique stasis and its manifestations in poetry, cinema, architecture, poster design, and painting. Images of speed, modernisation, dynamism and utopianism were integral to avant-garde activity, but were also very popular in early Stalinism (during the First Five-Year Plan). Socialist Realism gained momentum at the precise moment when the utopian project ceased to be a project and was declared real. The collective farm poem or kolkhoz poem, which emerged during collectivisation and flourished during late Stalinism, fulfilled the function of representing communal agrarian socialism as a realisation of Marxism's modernisation project and the mode of the patriarchal commune as contemporary collective agriculture. The kolkhoz poem was used to domesticate the kolkhoz utopia.

Keywords: kolkhoz poem; lubok aesthetics; Marxist ideology; Socialist Realism; Stalinist culture; utopianism



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