The Pedagogy of Images

Depicting Communism for Children

Edited by Marina Balina & Serguei A. Oushakine
Categories: Literature & Language Studies, World History, World Literature, Political Science, Education
Series: Studies in Book and Print Culture
Publisher: University of Toronto Press
Ebook (PDF) : 9781487534653, 568 pages, June 2021
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781487534660, 568 pages, June 2021

Table of contents


Primers of Soviet Modernity: Depicting Communism for Children in Early Soviet Russia
Serguei Alex. Oushakine and Marina Balina

Part One: Mediation

1. Three Degrees of Exemplary Boyhood in Boris Kustodiev’s Soviet Paradise
Helena Goscilo

2. How the Revolution Triumphed: Alisa Poret’s Textbook of Cultural Iconography
Yuri Leving

3. Foto-glaz: Children as Photo-Correspondents in Early Soviet Periodicals
Erika Wolf

4. Autonomous Animals Animated: Samozveri as a Constructivist Do It Yourself Book
Aleksandar Bošković

5. The Fragile Power of Paper and Projection
Birgitte Beck Pristed

Part Two: Technology

6. From Nature to “Second Nature” and Back
Larissa Rudova

7. The Production of the Man-Machine: The Child as Instrument of Futurity
Sara Pankenier Weld

8. Spells of Materialist Magic, or Soviet Children and Electric Power
Kirill Chunikin

9. “Do It Yourself!”: Teaching Technological Creativity at the Time of Soviet Industrialization
Maria Litovskaia

10. The Camel and the Caboose: Viktor Shklovsky’s Turksib and the Pedagogy of Uneven Development
Michael Kunichika

11. Aero-plane, Aero-boat, Aero-sleigh: Propelling Everywhere in Soviet Transportation
Katherine M. N. Reischl

Part Three: Power

12. Spatializing Revolutionary Temporality: From Montage and Dynamism to Map and Plan
Kevin M. F. Platt

13. “Poor, Poor Il’ich”: Visualizing Lenin’s Death for Children
Marina Sokolovskaia and Daniil Leiderman

14. Young Soldiers at Play: The Red Army Solder as Icon
Stephen M. Norris

15. The Working Body and Its Prostheses: Inventing the Aesthetics and Anatomy of Class for Soviet Children
Alexey Golubev

16. Amerikanizm: The Brave New World of Soviet Civilization
Thomas Keenan

List of Illustrations


In the 1920s, with the end of the revolution, the Soviet government began investing resources and energy into creating a new type of book for the first generation of young Soviet readers. In a sense, these early books for children were the ABCs of Soviet modernity; creatively illustrated and intricately designed, they were manuals and primers that helped the young reader enter the field of politics through literature. Children’s books provided the basic vocabulary and grammar for understanding new, post-revolutionary realities, but they also taught young readers how to perceive modern events and communist practices.

Relying on a process of dual-media rendering, illustrated books presented propaganda as a simple, repeatable narrative or verse, while also casting it in easily recognizable graphic images. A vehicle of ideology, object of affection, and product of labour all in one, the illustrated book for the young Soviet reader emerged as an important cultural phenomenon. Communist in its content, it was often avant-gardist in its form.

Spotlighting three thematic threads – communist goals, pedagogy, and propaganda – The Pedagogy of Images traces the formation of a mass-modern readership through the creation of the communist-inflected visual and narrative conventions that these early readers were meant to appropriate.