Northern Illinois University Press

The Enemy on Trial

Early Soviet Courts on Stage and Screen

Julie A. Cassiday

"A work of innovative and effective scholarship that not merely enlightens its subject but is a joy to read."—Slavic Review

"Densely researched and imaginative.... The chapters on cinema open up new territory and introduce many works hitherto untreated in the literature."—Russian Review

"An original contribution to our understanding of Soviet culture...a sharp book about an engrossing subject."—James von Geldern, Macalester College

Attempting to indoctrinate the public into a new society, the Bolsheviks staged show trials—legal trials that incorporated theatrical elements such as coached defendants, memorized scripts for confession, and grueling interrogatory rehearsals. The genre of legal spectacle, whose origins lay in Soviet theater and cinema of the 1920s, moved from mass public spectacles to the courtroom, as the Bolsheviks sought to effect ever- greater social change.

In this intriguing interdisciplinary study, literature scholar Cassiday shows how Soviet show trials deliberately used avant-garde drama and cinema to educate the citizenry about the new social order. She examines how elements of theater and film were incorporated into Soviet courtrooms, turning public trials into vehicles for propaganda. Drawing on a variety of popular media from the 1920s, she reveals the origins of the show trials.

(2000) 270 pages
ISBN: 978-0-87580-266-4
cloth $42.00

Table of Contents

1 Imperial Precedents and the First Bolshevik Show Trials
2 The Mock Trial: Mythopoetic Justice I
3 Trials on Film: Mythopoetic Justice II
4 Marble Columns and Jupiter Lights in the Shakhty Affair
5 The Redounding Rhetoric of Legal Satire
6 For Each Enemy, Another Trial

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-266-4
cloth $42.00