Socialist Senses

Unjacketed Library Edition

Socialist Senses

Film, Feeling, and the Soviet Subject, 1917–1940
Emma Widdis
Distribution: World
Publication date: 9/6/2017
Format: cloth 418 pages, 7 color illus., 50 b&w illus.
6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-253-02633-0
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In a major reimagining of the history and cultural impact of Soviet film, noted film scholar Emma Widdis explores the fundamental transformations in how film, through the senses, remade the Soviet self in the 1920s and 1930s. Following the Russian Revolution, there was a shared ambition for a "sensory revolution" to accompany political and social change: Soviet men and women were to be reborn into a revitalized relationship with the material world. Cinema was seen as a privileged site for the creation of this sensory revolution as film could both discover the world anew and model a way of inhabiting it. Drawing on an extraordinary array of films, Widdis shows how Soviet cinema, as it evolved from the revolutionary avant-garde to Socialist Realism, gradually shifted its materialist agenda from emphasizing the external senses to instilling the appropriate internal senses (consciousness, emotions) in the new Soviet subject.

Author Bio

EMMA WIDDIS is Reader in Russian Studies at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity College. She is author of Visions of a New Land: Soviet Cinema from the Revolution to the Second World War and Alexander Medvedkin, and editor (with Simon Franklin) of National Identity in Russian Culture.


"A brilliant and pioneering analysis of debates around Soviet selfhood in the 1920s and 1930s. It is a work of rare and exciting scholarly originality, written with elegance and lucidity."
- Julian Graffy, Professor Emeritus of Russian Literature and Film, University College London

"In this original and captivating study, Widdis gives us an entirely new way of looking at early Soviet cinema. Widdis' sharp eye for detail and sure hand in applying theory gives us a work of film analysis at its best."
- Joan Neuberger, Professor, University of Texas at Austin

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Table of Contents

Note on Translation and Transliteration
Introduction: Feeling Soviet
1. Avant-Garde Sensations
2. Material Sensations
3. Textile Sensations
4. Socialist Sensations
5. Primitive Sensations
6. Modern Sensations
7. Socialist Feelings
8. Socialist Transformations
9. Socialist Pleasures
Conclusion: The Death of Sensation
Glossary of Russian Terms