Sounding Socialist, Sounding Modern: Music, Technology, and Everyday Life in the Soviet Union, 1956-1975


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation explores the how music and sound helped to construct Soviet identity during the Cold War. Using archival research, musical analysis, historical sound studies, and interviews, it argues that the Soviet government strategically considered sound and music within a broader politics of socialist modernity—that is, a socialist alternative to capitalist models of cultural and technological development. Officials believed sound was a foundational material in promoting socialism in two ways: first, it was an ideal medium through which to reinvigorate the utopian underpinnings of Marxist-Leninism after Stalin. Second, it was instrumental in distinguishing Soviet socialism from Western capitalism: socialism ought to sound different from capitalism. Ultimately, this project presents a model for rethinking aesthetic modernism in the late socialist context and, in doing so, reintroduces the Soviet Union into broader discourses of musical modernism, invention, and the “new” in twentieth-century music history.