Thesis ID: CBB077352934

Sounding Socialist, Sounding Modern: Music, Technology, and Everyday Life in the Soviet Union, 1956-1975 (2020)


Cornish, Gabrielle (Author)
Jakelski, Lisa (Advisor)

University of Rochester
Jakelski, Lisa
Publication date: 2020
Language: English

Publication Date: 2020
Physical Details: 328

What did the Soviet project sound like to the people living within it? Historians of the Soviet Union who have increasingly begun to explore everyday life in the Soviet Union have largely focused on the ways that material and visual culture contributed to greater personal freedoms after Stalin’s death in 1953. Music and sound, however, also played an essential role in shaping lived experience during this period. Yet although scholars of sound studies have examined intersections between the sonic and the social in the twentieth century, their work has largely focused on capitalist contexts in Western Europe and North America As a result, the conduits through which ordinary Soviet citizens lived and interacted with their sonic environments have been largely overlooked. My dissertation, “Sounding Socialist, Sounding Modern: Music, Technology, and Everyday Life in the Soviet Union, 1956-1975,” intervenes in these discussions to explore the ways in which sound and music helped to construct Soviet identity during the first half of the Cold War. Through archival research, musical analysis, strategies from historical sound studies, and oral history interviews, I argue that the Soviet government strategically deployed sound and music as part of state modernizing projects that presented a socialist alternative to capitalist models of cultural and technological development. Officials believed sound was foundational to promoting socialism in two ways: first, it was an ideal medium through which to reinvigorate the utopian underpinnings of Marxist-Leninism after Stalin; and second, it was instrumental in distinguishing Soviet socialism from Western capitalism. Socialism needed to sound different from capitalism. Ultimately, this dissertation works to establish a sonic history of the Cold War through presenting a new, complex conception of how the Soviet project sounded. Bringing sound studies into dialogue with Soviet political history enables us to assess both the failures and the successes of the Soviet state while foregrounding the experiences of the ordinary people who inhabited it. Moreover, it allows for new historiographical considerations of twentieth-century music by reintroducing the Soviet Union into disciplinary discourses of modernity, invention, and development that have heretofore animated musical scholarship on Western Europe and North America during this period.

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Authors & Contributors
Andrade, Tonio
Barak, On
Dannenberg, Roger B.
Kaasch, Joachim
Kaasch, Michael
Kakaliouras, Ann M.
Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity
Canadian Historical Review
Current Anthropology
Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation
Environment and History
History of the Human Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
Columbia University
Cornell University Press
UCL Press
University of California Press
University of Massachusetts Press
Technology and culture
Cross-cultural interaction; cultural influence
Cross-cultural comparison
Science and politics
Acosta, José de
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century
21st century
16th century
17th century
18th century
Soviet Union
United States
Ontario (Canada)
East Germany

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