Last week we brought you the news of Anna Hurina’s successful PhD defence. Below is the abstract for her thesis.
Representations of Urban Spaces and Their Transformations in Soviet Cinema of the 1920s and 1960s
ABSTRACT: This dissertation explores the correlations between planned/constructed urban environments and the depiction of the city in films. The research focuses on the changing image of the socialist city in two broadly conceived modernist periods: the 1920s and the 1960s. Adhering to the methodologies of visual, film and urban studies after the ‘spatial turn’ in the humanities, my thesis charts the interdependency of two fields – urbanism and cinema – in the production of Soviet urban space. The theoretical contributions of my study include: (1) revisiting the theory of dispositif and the subject it produces with regard to the Soviet context; (2) identifying the category of the socialist city symphony as a cinematic sub-genre in the 1920s; (3) re-affirming the productivity of the concept of the ‘thing’ in relation to the cinematography of the 1920s; (4) reconceptualizing utopian impulses and the inherent dialectical movement of the Soviet understanding of technology. This dissertation mirrors the theory of the ‘linear city’ proposed by Nikolai Miliutin in 1930: a scheme for the parallel disposition of industrial and living spaces, which are divided by a green zone along the lines of transport infrastructure. The three parts that form this thesis are accordingly structured around the following conceptual entities: dispositif (philosophical and film theory concepts; its application towards the railway, city and the cinema); living spaces of the socialist city (architectural and screen byt [way of life]); working spaces of the socialist city and the dialectics of technology on the cinema screen. The main findings of my work are: the explication of the affinities between the New Soviet Subject and the production strategies of urbanism and cinema; establishing the stylistic, ideological and rhetorical similarities between the modernisms of the 1920s and 1960s; and analyzing the panoply of utopian impulses embodied in urban and film material which are easily missed if the Soviet experience is only viewed as the cultural production of totalitarianism.