Date of Award

5-10-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Michael Lane Bruner

Abstract

The present dissertation is a study of the process of national identity renegotiation in modern Russia. More specifically, I analyze the use of the word fascism in contemporary Russian discourse. Developing a blend of Kenneth Burke’s theory of human motives and Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic theory of the subject, I compare the psycho-rhetorical narratives of the four distinct parties - Vladimir Putin, state-sponsored “anti-fascists” (Nashi), independent anti-fascists (Antifa), and neo-fascists - which fight over the usage of the word fascism in their attempts to renegotiate the meaning of Russianness. While explicating the mechanism of national identity construction, Lacan’s theory, as I argue, does not help distinguish among various visions of the nation. Therefore, I build upon Burke’s classification of symbolic frames (comedy, tragedy, epic, elegy, satire, the burlesque, and the grotesque) to differentiate among alternative fantasy-frames (Lacanian fantasy and Burkean frame) as more or less politically dangerous and ethically sophisticated. As the reading of the four psycho-rhetorical narratives shows, the vision of Russia proposed by Russian neo-fascists dangerously approximates the Russian idea promoted by the state and pro-Putin “anti-fascists.”

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