The Russian Avant-garde Children’s Book and the Ecology of Art Historical Enquiry
This article is a polemics on the methodology of research in historical inquiry discussing recent publications in the domain of early Soviet children’s books. The study of this material has gained momentum in recent years. Scholars use this material for many reasons: demonstration of the new facets of the Russian Avant-garde, investigation of peculiarities of the Soviet childhood, or for deconstruction of the subtle way of indoctrination of the first generation of the Soviet kids and construction of the New Man (as in my own book which happened to be the first English-language monograph on the subject of Soviet picture-books). The article problematizes the limits of the usage of the trendy theories (or their buzzwords – like “disempowerment”) for writing on the material which cannot be easily matched with these theories. It discusses broad methodological issues: the applicability of fashionable theories to a given subject matter and where-when-how the popular agenda turns into tendentiousness and distortion of facts.