Date of Thesis

Spring 2018

Thesis Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Arts

Major

English

First Advisor

Harold Schweizer

Second Advisor

Alf Siewers

Third Advisor

Saundra Morris

Keywords

Marxism, Cultural Studies, Russian Literature, Welsh Literature, Political Theory, Literary Theory

Abstract

This thesis seeks to explore the means by which nominally or potentially resistant texts are appropriated into violent or exploitative political structures for propaganda and profit. In the first chapter two pre-soviet Russian novels closely associated with the radical tradition are examined, through the lens of literary analysis, in order to uncover the ways in which ideologically egalitarian revolutionary movements can degenerate into authoritarian regimes. The second chapter is concerned with a Welsh text, How Green Was My Valley, which, despite being concerned with the conditions of the Welsh mining class, utilizes the narrative form of childhood recollection to insidiously propagate an extremely reactionary social, political, and economic ideology informed by patriarchal and xenophobic tendencies. This thesis looks to uncover the ways in which the text incorporates resistant elements in order to create an economically viable artifact for the capitalist market, as well as buttress the dominant hegemony. This function becomes even more clear in John Ford’s 1941 film adaptation, in which labor struggle and economic disparity are put under erasure entirely in order to enhance the marketability of the film and to intensify its underlying ideological message. Both sets of texts, Russian and Anglophone, demonstrate the dangerous and pernicious tendency for texts to be weaponized as means of exploitation, and for ideological perspectives to fossilize and cause individuals and movements to lean towards violence and away from democracy.

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