Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

“Knowledge to the Masses!”: Traveling Lecturers and Molding the New Postwar Soviet Subjects, 1940s-1950s.

Fri31  Mar12:30pm(15 mins)
Bute Hall


Iuliia Cherniavskaia1
1 Rutgers State University of NJ, United States


The postwar Soviet enlightenment campaign aimed at moulding all Soviet citizens into well educated, cultured and conscious individuals, committed to a Marxist-Leninist worldview, or into New Soviet Men. Soviet leaders and activists conceived of popularly-available science or “lecture propaganda” as a means to advance communism and fulfil the postwar plan for the reconstruction of the country. This paper examines how lecturers from the Soviet provinces, who traveled with lectures around remote towns and collective farms in the Ural region, moulded the new postwar Soviet subjects while being moulded into ones as well.

The diaries of Soviet activist and lecturer, Valentina Sokolova, offer an insight into the way official ideology reached ordinary Soviet subjects through intermediaries like herself. Sokolova both gave lectures and attended them, wrote reviews for her colleagues and was reviewed by others. Sokolova’s encounter with harsh postwar conditions in kolkhozes and towns in the Urals affected her and her way of interpreting Soviet reality. Her diaries showcase the Soviet mode of living and enlightening as well as being enlightened. Sokolova’s experience, as a proponent of mass education and the idea that culture and knowledge can change people for the better, sheds light on how Soviet activists understood and took up socialist ideals and put them into practice.