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Title: Left Flank of the Avant-garde: The Evolution of OBERIU Poetics
Authors: Cebula, Geoff
Advisors: Wachtel, Michael
Contributors: Slavic Languages and Literatures Department
Keywords: avant-garde
Russian poetry
Soviet theater
Subjects: Slavic literature
Slavic studies
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The artistic association “OBERIU” is considered to be a significant movement in the Russian avant-garde, and several authors associated with this movement (Daniil Kharms, Nikolai Zabolotsky, Alexander Vvedensky) have enjoyed popularity and influence among later generations both in Russian and abroad. Nonetheless, few studies have attempted to describe the group as a whole, and questions persist about their place in the development of the Russian avant-garde and early Soviet culture. This dissertation provides a revised framework for understanding the writers officially and unofficially associated with this movement by focusing on how they responded to a particular set of debates important to the Soviet literary culture of the 1920s and 1930s. Rather than posit a cohesive poetics or worldview uniting these writers, I suggest an ongoing debate between competing visions of progressive (“left”) art as the key to understanding the internal dynamics of the group and the evolution of individual members. Moreover, I interpret these attempts to define a “left” artistic agenda as an effort to carve out an intellectual and creative space within the increasingly restrictive culture of early Stalinism. While the majority of previous studies have isolated these authors from contemporaneous cultural developments, this dissertation largely investigates ways in which their works responded critically to developments in official Soviet culture. Chapter One provides a general framework by considering these writers’ own discussions of the concept of an artistic “left” in the context of scholarly discussions of their place in the Russian avant-garde. The succeeding chapters extend and refine this framework by examining problems in the construction of a work of verbal art (verse semantics, narrative structure, lyric voice) from these authors’ point of view. These chapters also follow a rough chronology based on the major stages of the group’s evolution: Chapter Two focuses on the public poetry readings of the mid-1920s, Chapter Three contextualizes their theatrical performances of the late-1920s, and Chapter Four considers the unofficial circle that succeeded OBERIU after political reprisals further made public performance impossible. The conclusion reconsiders the legacy of these authors through a discussion of their own views on the notion of literary “greatness.”
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Slavic Languages and Literatures

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