2017, Fri, Dec 15

Angela Harutyunyan: Socialist Realism and the Concept of the Ideal

Socialist Realism became an official doctrine and acted as a general cultural principle in the USSR in the early 1930s and persisted in various articulations until the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. Neither a style nor a form, Socialist Realism prescribed a set of ideological and content-driven imperatives to the sphere of cultural production. Yet Harutyunyan argues that Socialist Realism was haunted by the “ideal,” as a double edged sword: on the one hand, it both transposed the Stalinist Dialectical Materialism to the sphere of aesthetics, and thus contributed to the totalistic understanding of all phenomena through a teleology of nature. On the other hand, it superseded this total subsumption. In her lecture, Harutyunyan pursues this argument by engaging with the debate on the ideal in Soviet philosophy, namely in the works of Mikhail Lifshitz and Evald Ilyenkov.

Part of the conference Freedom in the Bush of Ghosts