The poetics of organic damage : discursive and aesthetic functions of monstrosity and monstrous bodies in early Soviet 'mad science' literature

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This dissertation examines the use of a particular type of imagery as a literary device and discursive metaphor in a series of literary works about the scientific transformation of the body from the Soviet 1920s and 1930s. The imagery in question, what I call broadly the imagery of monstrous or altered bodies, includes human bodies warped or transformed by disassembly, reassembly, atrophy, augmentation, and/or amputation. I argue that such imagery serves as a potent metaphor to writers in this time not only because of certain historical conditions, but also because of early Soviet transformation discourse and the role that the body and the biological sciences played in it. These writers, I argue, use the mechanisms of scientific transformation both as discursive markers to interrogate the Soviet transformation project and as metaphorical inspiration for their own literary practice. This dissertation seeks to articulate and elaborate a series of linguistic and aesthetic strategies that allow writers to investigate the aesthetic and ethical potentials of transformation in early Soviet rhetoric and constitute what I call a poetics of organic damage.


Type of resource text
Form electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
Extent 1 online resource.
Place California
Place [Stanford, California]
Publisher [Stanford University]
Copyright date 2022; ©2022
Publication date 2022; 2023
Issuance monographic
Language English


Author Costello, Jillian Burgie
Degree supervisor Greenleaf, Monika, 1952-
Thesis advisor Greenleaf, Monika, 1952-
Thesis advisor Ilchuk, Yuliya
Thesis advisor Safran, Gabriella, 1967-
Degree committee member Ilchuk, Yuliya
Degree committee member Safran, Gabriella, 1967-
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures


Genre Theses
Genre Text

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Jillian Burgie Costello.
Note Submitted to the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.
Thesis Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2023.

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© 2022 by Jillian Burgie Costello

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