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Singing the Self

Guitar Poetry, Community, and Identity in the Post-Stalin Period

Rachel S. Platonov

Publication Year: 2012

This book is a study of a Soviet cultural phenomenon of the 1960s and 70s known as guitar poetry – songs accompanied by guitar and considered poetry in much the same way as those of, for example, Bob Dylan. Platonov’s is the most comprehensive book in English to date to analyze guitar poetry, which has rarely received scholarly attention outside of Russia.

Published by: Northwestern University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. vii-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

l owe a debt of gratitude to many people who have helped me immeasurably throughout the various stages of this project. I am grateful to my advisory team of Svetlana Boym, William Mills Todd III, and Julie Buckler, and also to Stephanie Sandler, who provided sage advice and constructive criticism on my Ph.D. dissertation...

Author's Note

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pp. xi-

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Introduction

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pp. 3-12

IN THE HEADY DECADE following Joseph Stalin's death in March 1953, public discourse in the Soviet Union acqnired not only a new vocabulary but also a new soundtrack. For so many years, the ritual glorification of the "wise father of the Soviet people," the heralding of the "bright and glorious future," and the nearly ubiqnitous proclamation that "Party and people [were ] united" had...

PART 1 Contexts

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Chapter One

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pp. 15-37

GUITAR POETRY'S ORIGINS and development are the subject of an oft-revisited dispute. For some, guitar poetry is an ancient genre that "can be related to the distant past of buman culture," and that has functioned throughout hiStory as "a counterweight to official poetry and song.'" Some adherents of this...

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Chapter Two

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pp. 38-54

AS THE PRECEDING DISCUSSION underscores, guitar poetry was a strikingly siguilicant sociocultural phenomenon of the post -Stalin period, but also one that straddled many of the traditionally accepted boundaries of Russian culture and of Soviet sociocultural and political life. Generically, guitar poetry...

PART II Guitar Poetry's Selves and Communities

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Chapter Three

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pp. 57-76

THE PREVIOUS TWO CHAPTERS have concerned themselves largely with gnitar poetry's contexts, theoretical as well as historical and sociopolitical. This chapter and the next undertake to examine guitar poetry's performance and reception within these contexts. In guitar poetry, the interplay between...

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Chapter Four

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pp. 77-98

INEFFABLE LICHNOST' WAS both a defining component of gnitar poetry and one of its chief products. A fundamental duality of lichnosf io discourse about guitar poetry mapped onto a larger discourse of lichnost' in the post -Stalin period. In its official variants, this larger discourse saw subtle competition for...

PART III Lyrical Marginalities and Beyond

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Chapter Five

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pp. 101-127

KEENLY ATTUNED TO BOTH cultural and sociopolitical developments, guitar poetry swiftly became an important arena for addressing socially pressing and politically sensitive themes around which public discourse was closely guarded. Emblematic of such engagement is guitar poetry's persistent and highly varied treatment of alcoholism and drunkenness and of the Gulag...

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Chapter Six

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pp. 128-153

WHILE "OVERT" MARGINALITY IS evident in songs on politically sensitive themes, "covert" marginality has subtler and less ohvious manifestations in songs that lack explicitly political content. It can be argued that, at a generic level, goitar poetry was political by default because the majority of its songs were...

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Chapter Seven

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pp. 154-180

FROM ANANALYSIS 0F overt and covert marginality, with their emphasis on theme and on detail, discussion now turns to issues of form. As has already been discussed, guitar poetry's roots can be traced back to a range of genres of both high and low cultural pedigree. Interestingly, guitar poetry's own generic composition is no less complex, with bards' works including not just songs and ditties...

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Conclusion

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pp. 181-186

On the cusp of the 1950s and 1960s, guitar poetry was poised to become one of the central sociocultural phenomena of the post -Stalin period. Bards quickly became emblematic of an entire generation and beyond, as more and more young people turned to guitar poetry as singer-songwriters and as listeners; and, in doing so, drew together into communities around their common interest...

Notes

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pp. 187-236

Bibliography

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pp. 237-260

Index

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pp. 261-

About the Author

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p. 288-288


E-ISBN-13: 9780810166172
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810128330

Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1
Series Title: Studies in Russian Literature and Theory
Series Editor Byline: Saul Morson

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Popular music -- Social aspects -- Soviet Union -- History and criticism.
  • Marginality, Social -- Soviet Union.
  • Songs, Russian -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
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