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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Application of the Theory of Myth to the History of Soviet Russia: Interdisciplinarial Approach

Olga Velikanova.

The author suggests a new methodological approach for studying the social process in Soviet Russia. Contrary to the popular misunderstanding of myth as false, fantasy or primitive consciousness, the author treats myth as a specific mode of perceiving the world (Eliade). In order to understand the Soviet 'cocktail' of fear and enthusiasm, of dissent behind closed doors and loyalty, fanaticism in public, the author examines the mass consciousness of the Soviet people, and delve even deeper into the realm of subconsciousness. The author defines what collective representations she considers to be mythological. She explores why did mythological discourse emerge in revolutionary Russia. The author agues that alongside such attributes of a modernizing society, as scientific paradigms, and the rationalistic, pragmatic tendencies in the public minds, the mythological consciousness defined many social strategies and practices. The paper puts the Soviet case of the 'recourse' to myth into global context of the revival of myth in the process of modernization and 'massification'.


Olga Velikanova  (Canada)
Centre for Russian and East European Studies
University of Toronto

Olga is fellow at Sankt-Petersburg University, Russia and fellow at CREES, University of Toronto, Canada. Before that she lectured the Soviet history at the European university in Sankt-Petersburg. She studies the history of collective representations in Soviet Russia, taking advantage of newly opened archival documents. She is the author of two books, published in Germany and the USA, and numerous articles in Russian, English, German, Spanish, Hungarian, Finnish languages. In different time she got the awards from eight international research foundations.

  • Soviet History
  • Myth
  • Collective Representations

(30 min Conference Paper, English)