Episode 69: The Amateur Photography Movement in the Soviet Union

Host: Christopher Rose, Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Guest: Jessica Werneke, Department of History, University of Texas at Austin

How to repair a how to repair Zorkii camera for amateurs. M. Iakovlev, Untitled, black-and-white photographs. Sovetskoe foto no. 1 (January 1959)

In its early days, photography occupied an awkward middle ground between documentation and an art form, a debate which dragged on in the west for decades. The debate took place in the Soviet Union as well, where it was encouraged, discouraged, and then encouraged again in a roller-coaster of official policies between the eras of Lenin, Stalin, and Khrushchev. This interplay reveals a surprising amount about the lives of the artistically inclined Soviet middle class.

Guest Jessica Werneke has just completed her doctorate that looks at this oft-overlooked aspect of Soviet society, and discusses the turbulent world of amateur photography in the Soviet Union.

Download audio (mp3—right click to save)

Continue reading

Episode 7: Russia’s October 1917 Revolution

Host: Christopher Rose, Outreach Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Guest: Joan Neuberger, Professor, Department of History, and editor, Not Even Past

"The Bolshevik," Boris Kustodiev (1920)

In the second episode discussing the tumultuous year 1917 in Russia, we examine the reasons for the failure of the February Revolution (discussed in Episode 1). How did the Bolsheviks, a small party on the far left of the political spectrum that barely merited any notice in February, come to dominate the popular revolution during 1917? And how did the Bolsheviks manage to channel their popularity into the power to seize control of the government of the world’s largest country?

Guest Joan Neuberger offers fascinating insights into the events that led to Russia’s October 1917 Revolution.

Download audio (right click to save)

Continue reading