Russian images of war : the lubok and wartime culture, 1812-1917

Norris, Stephen Michael, Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia
Geraci, Robert, Department of History, University of Virginia
Rossman, Jeffrey, Department of History, University of Virginia
Confino, Alon, Department of History, University of Virginia
Affron, Matthew, Department of History, University of Virginia

This dissertation explores Russian wartime propaganda, patriotic culture, and the articulation of national identity over a one-hundred year period. The source used to explore these issues is the wartime lubok, a uniquely Russian genre similar to posters or broadsides. Scholars have explored its importance as an aid in spreading literacy, but historians have rarely examined its role as a source of national identity and patriotism. The concern throughout this work is with the artists and publishers who produced the wartime lubok and on the various ways in which Russians of all types received and understood these popular prints. It discusses these issues by focusing on the themes contained in the images themselves, as well as the production, regulation, and reception of the war lubki from the Napoleonic Wars of 1812 through the Great War of 1914. In many respects, as this work argues, these images acted as historical agents, for in a sense the wartime lubok did not just record events, but also influenced the way Russians viewed them at the time.

Wars proved central to the transformation of the lubok's importance, for these images served as the major source of information about Russia's wars to a large percentage of the population. By the time of the Patriotic War against Napoleon, artists and publishers produced their prints in greater numbers, and improved lithographic techniques by the middle of the century allowed publishers to print even more. Subsequent wars consistently witnessed increases in their production and sales. The lubok's cultural significance in the nineteenth century, therefore, both as a carrier of national identity and patriotism and as a product of the emerging mass culture in Imperial Russia, came as a result of Russia's wars. Whereas most studies claim that Russian national identity before 1917 was either non-existent or subsumed by imperial identity, "Russian Images of War" discusses how popular images depicted and interpreted Russia's nineteenth and early twentieth-century wars and in tum contributed to a sense of Russian nationhood. More than just providing a glimpse into the visual world of Russian wartime culture from 1812-1917, I argue that the images produced by artists and publishers and approved by the Russian government represented one of the most important sources for understanding how Russians articulated, disseminated, and understood their own national identity.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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