Theses Doctoral

“I Want to be Honest”: The Rhetoric of Sincerity in Soviet Russian Literature, 1953-1970

Gluck, Michael

This dissertation chronicles the discourse of sincerity in state published Soviet Russian literature and criticism from Stalin’s death in 1953 to 1970. It presents a means of reading sincerity as a literary device in fiction and poetry that corresponds to an understanding of sincerity as rhetoric. This view holds that sincerity is a socially determined effect of language and affect. As such, the dissertation begins by analyzing the valences of sincerity during the Thaw, exploring them in connection with writers of the Village Prose and Youth Prose movements as well as in the poetry of Evgenii Evtushenko. From this survey of different literary trends, a general framework of a shift from an essentialist to a performative conception of sincerity in Russian official literature is presented. This dissertation argues that there was a gradual process which saw authoritative discourse and a discourse of sincerity exist in tension with each other in the early Thaw before performativity seeped into sincerity rhetoric in the Youth Prose of the early ‘60s. An awareness of sincerity as rhetorical or performative language flourished in postmodernist literature and late Soviet underground art, creating a mode that was self-conscious of the impossibility of essential sincerity while still seeking a way to be sincere.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Slavic Languages
Thesis Advisors
Izmirlieva, Valentina B.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 29, 2021