The Soviet Children’s Picture Book, 1917-1932

Saddington, Frances (2020) The Soviet Children’s Picture Book, 1917-1932. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

[thumbnail of Frances Saddington PhD thesis - redacted version for E-thesis final.pdf] PDF
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After the 1917 October Revolution, Russian society underwent a series of seismic shifts, driven by the socialist ideology of the Bolshevik government. Innovation and renewal dominated all aspects of culture, including the production of children’s picture books, which were published in huge numbers during the 1920s and early 1930s. Pioneering authors and illustrators applied themselves to the task of creating a bold new pre-school literature which would serve the needs of the first Soviet generation. The new Soviet picture book was a multifaceted object which found itself at the confluence of key social, cultural and political developments. This thesis explores how the picture book served many different purposes for different groups, which sometimes lead to brilliant invention but in other instances gave root to great conflict. As a form of art, the picture book acted as a canvas for both modernist artists who wished to promote the socialist cause and illustrators who saw art for children as a specialist genre with no political duty. As a commercial product, the picture book was advanced greatly by private publishing houses during the NEP period, until the state gained full control of the publishing industry at the beginning of the 1930s. Picture books also acted as political education, either by gently demonstrating a socialist way of life or through direct messaging which reflected adult propaganda materials. At the same time, picture books were still given to children to develop literacy, provide moral education and to entertain. Taking a journey into the picture book world gives us new insights into cultural production in the early Soviet Union. We explore not just the nature of continuity and change in post-revolutionary culture but the sometimes difficult process of creating the ‘new Soviet man’. Moreover, picture books show us how a unique Soviet culture for children was created, the legacy of which remains to this day.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2022 07:39
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2022 07:39

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