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Science, medicine and the creation of a ‘healthy’ Soviet cinema

Toropova, Anna

Science, medicine and the creation of a ‘healthy’ Soviet cinema Thumbnail


Anna Toropova


Cinema had long been hailed by Bolshevik party leaders as a crucial ally of the Soviet mass enlightenment project. By the mid-1920s, however, Soviet psychologists, educators and practitioners of ‘child science’ (pedology) were pointing to the grave effects that the consumption of commercial cinema was exerting on the physical, mental and moral health of Soviet young people. Diagnosing an epidemic of ‘film mania’, specialists battled to curtail the NEP-era practices of film production and demonstration that had rendered cinema ‘toxic’ to children. Campaigns to ‘healthify’ Soviet cinema, first manifesting in the organization of child-friendly screenings and forms of ‘cultural enlightenment work’, soon extended to attempts to develop a new children's film repertoire based on the results of psycho-physiological viewer studies. A vast variety of pedological research institutions established during the late 1920s and early 1930s began to experimentally test cinema's effects on children with the view of assisting the production of films that could cultivate a sound mind and body. Tracing a link between the findings of pedological viewer studies and the ‘healthy’ cinema championed in the 1930s, this article sheds light on the vital role played by medical and scientific expertise in shaping Stalinist culture.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 7, 2018
Online Publication Date Mar 27, 2019
Publication Date 2020-01
Deposit Date Nov 30, 2018
Publicly Available Date Nov 30, 2018
Journal Journal of Contemporary History
Print ISSN 0022-0094
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 55
Issue 1
Pages 3-28
Public URL
Publisher URL


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