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Title: Discourses of heroism in Brezhnev's USSR
Author: Dunlop, Lucy
ISNI:       0000 0004 6501 1130
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis examines propaganda and educational campaigns in the Brezhnev-era USSR, where the Party-state continued the longstanding Soviet attempt to form the country's youth into conscientious builders and defenders of communism. Focusing on the military, military-historical and physical-cultural activity that the state identified as areas of strategic importance in a period of intensifying competition with the capitalist world, the thesis analyses the interactions between propaganda and its producers, and the ordinary and extraordinary young people at whom it was aimed. It finds that state agencies and organisations of the Brezhnev era followed tradition in employing heroic motifs and discourses to elicit heroic behaviour amongst the population, often seeking to apply themes and material from earlier periods directly to the situation of late-1960s and 1970s youth. In particular, propaganda emphasised the importance of both models of wartime heroism, and the characteristics articulated in the 1961 Moral Code of the Builder of Communism - but in a political and social environment now much changed from those in which they had originally emerged. The thesis begins with a study of material surrounding the reinstatement of universal conscription after Khrushchev's army reforms, before examining youth involvement in one of the flagship military-patriotic education campaigns of the period. The second part of the thesis then shifts the focus to a more symbolic, yet no less significant site of the 'defence of the honour of the Motherland': the international sporting arena, particularly during the 1972 Olympiads in 'hostile' West Germany and Japan. Through a case study of coverage of the gymnast Olga Korbut, the thesis argues that, while propaganda-makers still sought to control the Soviet definition of 'heroism', conditions increasingly allowed for the emergence of celebrity and a popular heroism based more on self-advancement and public acclaim than on established Soviet ethical models.
Supervisor: Kelly, Catriona Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Soviet Union ; Communist Youth League (Soviet Union) ; heroism ; late socialism ; Komsomol ; youth policy (USSR) ; propaganda (Soviet) ; USSR under Brezhnev