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Stalin's celluloid heroes: scientists in post-war Soviet cinema, 1947-1951

McLenachan, Thomas W.; (2018) Stalin's celluloid heroes: scientists in post-war Soviet cinema, 1947-1951. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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This thesis explores representations of the scientist in late-Stalinist film as a means of understanding cultural and ideological debates about the role of science in the Soviet Union. It links the history of Soviet film to the cultural history of Soviet science and thereby contributes to a broader rethinking of the evolution of the Soviet project in the post-war years. It focuses on a group of seven films chronicling the lives of Russian and Soviet scientists that were produced between 1947 and 1951. It examines the dynamics of genre in these films, which were regarded by Stalinist ideologues as part of the Soviet biographical canon and also conceptualized as forging a new genus of filmmaking, ‘nauchno-khudozhestvennoe kino’ (science-art cinema). Drawing on original archival research, it investigates the production history of the films, including the role of the leading Soviet scientists who acted as expert consultants to the filmmakers. It aims to provide fresh perspectives on the ‘totalitarian’ and ‘revisionist’ schools of thought in the study of Stalinist cinema by advancing more nuanced understandings of the organizational structure of the Soviet film industry, as well as the role of key functionaries in the Stalinist system. It is argued that this group of science-art films was at the vanguard of a wider campaign in the Soviet arts and sciences which was mobilized in order to promulgate the image of an idealized Russian-Soviet scientist, as part of a new, positive codification of a Soviet intellectual class. This study thereby aims to offer interdisciplinary and intermedial perspectives on how four fundamental pillars of the Soviet project – art, science, ideology and history – intersected and cross-pollinated in late-Stalinist culture. This thesis is therefore aimed primarily at film scholars, yet it is intended to serve two additional categories of readership: historians of Soviet science and political historians.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Stalin's celluloid heroes: scientists in post-war Soviet cinema, 1947-1951
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10042978
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