Police Aesthetics

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-11-08
  • Publisher: Stanford Univ Pr
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The documents emerging from the secret police archives of the former Soviet bloc have caused scandal after scandal, compromising revered cultural figures and abruptly ending political careers.Police Aestheticsoffers a revealing and responsible approach to such materials. Taking advantage of the partial opening of the secret police archives in Russia and Romania, Vatulescu focuses on their most infamous holdings--the personal files--as well as on movies the police sponsored, scripted, or authored. Through the archives, she gains new insights into the writing of literature and raises new questions about the ethics of reading. She shows how Soviet files and films influenced the writing of literature, from autobiographies to novels, from high-culture classics to avant-garde experiments and popular blockbusters. In so doing, she opens a fresh chapter in the heated debate about the relationship between culture and politics in twentieth-century police states.

Author Biography

Cristina Vatulescu is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at New York University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
Zones of Contact: Literature, Film and the Secret Policep. 1
Reading a Secret Police Filep. 11
"Police Aesthetics,"p. 20
The Road Planp. 24
Arresting Biographies: The Personal File in the Soviet Union and Romaniap. 27
Preamble: Fragmentary Archivesp. 27
A Short Genealogy of the Secret Police Filep. 32
Surveillance Files: Characterization Through Collationp. 34
Investigation Files: From Autobiography to Confessionp. 39
Stalinist Files: How Many of Those Enemies Were Forgedp. 41
Post-Stalinist Files: The Age of Surveillancep. 46
A Note on Foucaultp. 53
The Master and Margarita: The Devil's Secret Police Filep. 55
The Distinguishing Characteristics of the Devil in 1930s Moscowp. 56
Writer Prototypes: Madmen, Apostles, and Secret Police Investigatorsp. 59
Censorship and the Authority of the Wordp. 63
Stalinist "Fantastic Reality" and Its Textual Practicesp. 68
Mikhail Bulgakov's Personal Filep. 69
Repetitions with Suspect Differences: The Writer as Copyistp. 72
Early Soviet Cinema's Shots at Policingp. 77
Filmmaking and Fingerprinting: Dziga Vertov's Film Theory and Practicep. 78
Hidden and Artfully Exhibited Camerasp. 85
The Original Show Trial Film and Its Audiencep. 88
Alexander Medvedkin: Cinema as Public Prosecutorp. 92
The Indistinguishable Crowd: Criminal Challenges to Vision and Visual Technologiesp. 99
The Forged Party Card: Detaching Photographs, Names, and Identitiesp. 103
Vigilance: The Look of High Stalinismp. 108
Legitimizing Cinematic Vision: Socialist Realism, Depth Style and The Party Cardp. 110
Stalin as Scriptwriter and His Chekist Protagonistp. 114
Melodrama and the Policep. 115
Vision, Visual Technologies, and Policingp. 118
The Many Ways Film Directors Took Shots at Policingp. 121
Secret Police Shots at Filmmaking: The Gulag and Cinemap. 123
The Camp as Soviet Exotica: Solovkip. 124
An OGPU Blockbuster: Road to Lifep. 135
Discipline, Punishment, and a New OGPU Experimentp. 137
Film Techniques and Secret Police Tacticsp. 140
Violence and Stylistic Innovationp. 144
Interpellating a Dubious Public: The Belomor Projectp. 147
Multimedia Portraits of the Camp Inmatep. 152
Belomor's Femininity: The Prostitute and the Shock Workerp. 153
The Place of the Arts in the Belomor Projectp. 157
Literary Theory and the Secret Police: Writing and Estranging the Selfp. 161
Two Masters of Estrangement: Lev Tolstoy and Ivan the Terriblep. 163
Revolutionary Estrangement and the Explosion of the Selfp. 165
Self-Estrangement and Self-Effacementp. 167
Deposition and Autobiography: An Estranging Encounterp. 169
"This is surrealism": Estrangement in the Interrogation Roomp. 173
Eulogy to the Lie: Self-Estrangement and Reeducationp. 181
Concluding Thoughtsp. 187
Notesp. 199
Indexp. 239
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