Youth in Revolutionary Russia: Enthusiasts, Bohemians, Delinquents
Anne E. Gorsuch
A vivid account of Bolshevik efforts to "Sovietize" young people in the 1920s.
"A very impressive work—broad, learned, and very readable." —Lynn Mally
"A welcome and fascinating addition to the social and cultural history of the 1920s in Russia and to the comparative study of youth politics and culture in contemporary Europe and elsewhere." —Mark von Hagen
In Bolshevik Russia, the successful transformation of young people into communists was crucial for the future of the Soviet state. Soviet youth needed to be shaped into communists in every aspect of their daily lives—work, leisure, gender relations, and family life. But how could the Bolsheviks accomplish this enormous project? What did it mean to be "made communist"? What were the consequences if prerevolutionary and "bourgeois" culture and social relations could not be transformed into new socialist forms of behavior and belief? Drawing from a wide range of sources—diaries, party speeches, propagandistic writings, scientific studies, and literature—Anne E. Gorsuch reveals the rich diversity of youth cultures in Soviet Russia during the 1920s. She explores the relationship between representation and reality and between official ideology and popular culture, along with the meaning of these relationships for the making of a Soviet state and society. From the clash between ultracommunist visions of what Russian young people should be and the flamboyant style of flappers and foxtrotters so prominently imported from the capitalist West, emerges a vivid picture of the construction of Soviet youth. Thoughtful and appealing, Youth in Revoluntionary Russia is essential reading for those interested in popular culture and Soviet history.
Anne E. Gorsuch is Assistant Professor of History at the University of British Columbia.
Indiana-Michigan Series in Russian and East European Studies—Alexander Rabinowitch and William G. Rosenberg, editors
Introduction: Youth and Culture
The Politics of Generation
The Urban Environment
Making Youth Communist
Excesses of Enthusiasm
Gender and Generation
Flappers and Foxtrotters
Life and Leisure on the Street
Discourses of Delinquency
About the author
Anne E. Gorsuch is Associate Professor in History at the University of British Columbia.
Gorsuch gives an excellent scholarly gloss on a period and subject previously only brought to life through literature—notably Anatoli Rybakov's Children of the Arbat (CH, Oct'88). She argues convincingly from the outset that in moving away from war communism to the more moderate policy of making a new communist society through cultural enlightenment and purification during the New Economic Policy (NEP), it was necessary for the Soviet Union's leaders to transform young people. Since there existed a deep disjunction between idealized Soviet youth and the persistently noncommunist cultures shared by many of these young people, and since Bolshevik moralists were inclined to see almost all nonconformist behavior as delinquent and a threat to the larger issue of revolutionary societal transformation, the stage was set for a real kulturkampf. In a series of absolutely first-rate social histories, the author discusses fashions, drinking, social hygiene, the role of gender and generation, the goals of Soviet moralists, and, in perhaps the most spectacularly interesting chapter of all, flappers and foxtrotters. Based on a wealth of archival materials, periodical literature, and primary sources, this is a must read for Soviet and twentieth-century European social historians of all levels. All collections and levels.
Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania , 2001apr CHOICE.