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Heroes and Spongers: The iconography of disability in Soviet poster and film

P. 67-96.

Cinematic representations not only strongly influence our interpretation of history (Ferro 1992: 315), but are also important for understanding key aspects of Soviet disability policy. At the beginning of the twentieth century the new medium of cinema enjoyed immense popularity in many countries due to the efforts of commercial filmmakers to produce popular entertainment in the genres of melodrama, comedies and adventure stories. After the October Revolution in Russia, however, cinema was mainly used for education and propaganda (Lawton 1992: 2). Visual arts not only represented, but also contributed to, political discourses in Soviet society by using old and new imaginaries for classifying citizens. This chapter explores the ‘iconography’ of disability in Soviet film in order to reveal the shifting and contested meanings associated with the visual representation of disabled bodies