FAMILY, MASCULINITY, AND HEROISM IN RUSSIAN WAR POSTERS OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR

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Abstract

Did rapid social and political change and the trauma of war lead to transformations in the age-old definitions of family, nation, and hero? This essay focuses on the representations of the Russian Empire as family in Russian World War I broadsides, literary sketches, Artists and writers articulated class, hierarchy, and racial and religious difference through representations of inclusion and exclusion from the tsarist family and through contrasting depictions of heroes and cowards. The representation of Russia as a family was a central tenet of the Russian imperial ideology. While the definition of the Russian Tsar as “the Father of the Fatherland// had existed since the time of Peter the Great, the explicit articulation of a patriarchal ideology of family occurred during the reign of Nicholas I (1825-1855). When he ascended to the throne, Nicholas’s personal image was that of a “loving husband and caring father.// 7 His doctrine of Official Nationality, with its three intertwined principles of Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality, affirmed that “the entire past of the nation was based on the great institution of the family.//s Historian Mikhail Pogodin (1800-1875), for example, asserted that Russia was “a single family in which the ruler is the father and the subjects the children.// This patriarchal relationship was divinely sanctioned and had a uniquely harmonious character because both father and children adhered to the tenets of Russian Orthodoxy. The familial ties that bound the nation together allowed, somewhat paradoxically, for both the “complete authority” of the father, and the “full freedom” of the children. Pogo din believed that the familial model ought to hold sway throughout Russian society: “The military commander The mobilization for World War I in Russia was characterized by the uniting of various layers of Russian society behind the war effort, which was strongly supported even by some of the socialist parties. Many members of the elites and educated urban dwellers became army officers. The peasant recruits who made up the army in overwhelming numbers, however, were in very different material and social circumstances and were much less enthusiastic about going to war. For those peasant families who had only one adult male laborer, the effect of conscription could be catastrophic. At many mobilization points, drunken rioting occurred. Other peasant recruits responded to mobilization with “sullen resignation.”13 Despite the fact that the soldiers and their officers came from distinct social worlds, the posters and literary sketches created an ideal image of one family that included both soldiers and officers and denied their conflicting goals and needs.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBorderlines Genders and Identities in War and Peace, 1870-1930
Pages95-119
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781136043826
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 1998 by Routledge, Inc.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (all)

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