Showcasing the Great Experiment: Cultural Diplomacy and Western Visitors to the Soviet Union, 1921…

Paperback | February 11, 2014

byMichael David-Fox

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During the 1920s and 1930s thousands of European and American writers, professionals, scientists, artists, and intellectuals made a pilgrimage to experience the "Soviet experiment" for themselves. Showcasing the Great Experiment explores the reception of these intellectuals andfellow-travelers and their cross-cultural and trans-ideological encounters in order to analyze Soviet attitudes towards the West.Many of the twentieth century's greatest writers and thinkers, including Theodore Dreiser, Andre Gide, Paul Robeson, and George Bernard Shaw, notoriously defended Stalin's USSR despite the unprecedented violence of its prewar decade. While many visitors were profoundly affected by their Soviettours, so too was the Soviet system. The early experiences of building showcases and teaching outsiders to perceive the future-in-the-making constitute a neglected international part of the emergence of Stalinism at home. Michael David-Fox contends that each side critically examined the other,negotiating feelings of inferiority and superiority, admiration and enmity, emulation and rejection. By the time of the Great Purges, these tensions gave way to the dramatic triumph of xenophobia and isolationism; whereas in the twenties the new regime assumed it had much to learn from Westernmodernity, by the Stalinist thirties the Soviet order was declared superior in all respects. Drawing on the declassified archival records of the agencies charged with crafting the international image of communism, David-Fox shows how Soviet efforts to sell the Bolshevik experiment abroad through cultural diplomacy shaped and were, in turn, shaped by the ongoing project of defining theSoviet Union from within. These interwar Soviet methods of mobilizing the intelligentsia for the international ideological contest, he argues, directly paved the way for the cultural Cold War.

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During the 1920s and 1930s thousands of European and American writers, professionals, scientists, artists, and intellectuals made a pilgrimage to experience the "Soviet experiment" for themselves. Showcasing the Great Experiment explores the reception of these intellectuals andfellow-travelers and their cross-cultural and trans-ideolog...

Michael David-Fox is Associate Professor in the Department of History and School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He is the author of Revolution of the Mind: Higher Learning among the Bolsheviks, 1918-1929 and a founding editor of Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:February 11, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199376425

ISBN - 13:9780199376421

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction: "Russia and the West" in a Soviet Key1. Cultural Diplomacy of a New Type2. Going West: Soviet "Cultural" Operations Abroad3. The Potemkin Village Dilemma4. Gorky's Gulag5. Hard-Currency Foreigners and the Campaign Mode6. Stalin and the Fellow-Travelers Revisited7. Going East: Friends and Enemies8. Rise of the Stalinist Superiority ComplexEpilogue: Toward the Cultural Cold WarNotesBibliography of Archival CollectionsIndex