Russian Children's Literature and Culture: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Russian Children's Literature and Culture

1st Edition

Edited by Marina Balina, Larissa Rudova


390 pages | 17 B/W Illus.

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Soviet literature in general and Soviet children’s literature in particular have often been labeled by Western and post-Soviet Russian scholars and critics as propaganda. Below the surface, however, Soviet children’s literature and culture allowed its creators greater experimental and creative freedom than did the socialist realist culture for adults. This volume explores the importance of children’s culture, from literature to comics to theater to film, in the formation of Soviet social identity and in connection with broader Russian culture, history, and society.


"This volume is the first book-length study of Russian children's literature in English, and as such it is particularly welcome."

-- Children's Literature Association Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 1, Spring 2009

Table of Contents

Series Editor’s Foreword


INTRODUCTION: Reading Soviet and Post-Soviet Children’s Culture: Contexts and Challenges

1. Creativity through Restraint: The Beginnings of Soviet Children’s Literature

Marina Balina

2. From Character Building to Criminal Pursuits: Russian Children’s Literature in Transition

PART I Ideology, Literature, and Culture: Genres, Themes, and Issues

3. The Whole Real Children’s World: School Novella and "Our Happy Childhood"

Evgeny Dobrenko

4. Between Sputnik and Gagarin: Space Flight, Children’s Periodicals, and the Circle of Imagination

Anindita Banerjee

5. Crafting the Self: Narratives of Pre-Revolutionary Childhood in Soviet Literature

Marina Balina

6. Literature and Cultural Institutions By and For Soviet and Post-Soviet Youth

Lisa Ryoko Wakamiya

PART II Popular Children’s Entertainment

7. Arresting Development: A Brief History of Soviet Cinema for Children and Adolescents

Alexandr Prokhorov (College of William and Mary)

8. Comforting Creatures in Children’s Cartoons

Birgit Beumers (U of Bristol)

9. Juggernaut in Drag: Theater for Stalin’s Children

Boris Wolfson (USC)

10. ‘Nice, Instructive Stories Their Psychology Can Grasp’: How to Read Post-Soviet Russian Children’s Comics

Jose Alaniz (U of Washington)

PART III: Authors and Texts

11. Samuil Marshak—Yesterday and Today

Ben Hellman (University of Helsinki)

12. Lev Kassil’: Childhood as Religion and Ideology

Inessa Medzhibovskaya (Eugene Lang College, The New School)

13. Pavel Bazhov’s Skazy: Discovering the Soviet Uncanny

Mark Lipovetsky (U of Colorado)

14. A Traditionalist in the Land of Innovators: the Paradoxes of Sergei Mikhalkov

Elena Prokhorova (University of Richmond)

15. Evgenii Shvarts’s Fairy Tale Dramas: Theater, Power, and the Naked Truth

Anja Tippner (University of Salzburg)

16. Invitation to a Subversion: The Playful Literature of Grigorii Oster

Larissa Rudova (Pomona College)



About the Editors

Marian Balina is Professor Russian at Illinois Wesleyan University. She has co-edited a number of collections, including Politiciing Magic: Russian and Soviet Fairy Tales (2005), Dictionary of Literary Biography: Russian Writers Since 1980 (2003), and Endquote: Sots-Art Literature and Soviet Empire Style (2000).

Larissa Rudova is Associate Professor of Russian at Pomona College. She is author of Pasternak's Early Fiction and the Cultural Vanguard (1994) and Understanding Boris Pasternak (1997).

About the Series

Children's Literature and Culture

Founding Editor and Series Editor 1994-2011: Jack Zipes

Series Editor, 2011-2018: Philip Nel


Founded by Jack Zipes in 1994, Children's Literature and Culture is the longest-running series devoted to the study of children’s literature and culture from a national and international perspective. Dedicated to promoting original research in children’s literature and children’s culture, in 2011 the series expanded its focus to include childhood studies, and it seeks to explore the legal, historical, and philosophical conditions of different childhoods. An advocate for scholarship from around the globe, the series recognizes innovation and encourages interdisciplinarity. Children's Literature and Culture offers cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections considering topics such as gender, race, picturebooks, childhood, nation, religion, technology, and many others. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / European / Eastern (see also Russian & Former Soviet Union)
LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature