Events in Modern Languages & Cultures
Dr Seth Graham: Uncensored? Popular Satire in Post-Soviet Russia
The end of Soviet censorship (and Soviet power itself a few years later), unsurprisingly, dealt a severe blow to the cultural currency of satire in Russia. The disappearance of an ever-present, monolithic target for satire deprived citizens of at least the political aspect of what Freud considered a joke's central purpose: to help people 'evade restrictions and open sources of pleasure that have become inaccessible'. With the removal of state proscriptions on the pursuit of 'pleasure', as well as on free expression, the substantial weight the genre had borne for decades as an outlet for such impulses was quickly distributed among other forms. The history of laughter in the post-Soviet period is inextricable from the history of where humor and satire 'went', in terms of genres and media. My talk examines the redistribution of the functional portfolio of popular satire, especially the oral joke, that followed the obsolescence of its taboo status. I will also touch on the current sociopolitical climate in Putin's Russia, and how the satirical impulse has fared therein.
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