Shagi / Steps the Journal of the SASH


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century of happiness in childrens literature (19202020): A Stalinist canon and its long term consequences

K. A. Maslinsky
Institute of Russian Literature (Pushkin House) of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Russia, St. Petersburg)

DOI: 10.22394/2412-9410-2022-8-4-226-247

Keywords: happiness studies, the Russian language, childrens literature, word embeddings, computational literary studies

Abstract: In the Stalin era, the category of happiness was sharply politicized, and a new canon of representation of Soviet happiness was established in literature and cinema. The article presents empirical data that permits a quantitative evaluation of the scale and nature of the Stalinist transformation of the happiness narrative in a single genre realistic childrens prose. The corpus of 19th20th century Russian prose for children and youth (Detcorpus) served as the source of data. The scale of changes was assessed by measuring the frequency of the lexemes happiness and happy in the corpus. Semantic transformations were assessed based on changes in the contexts of the use of these lexemes, measured using diachronic word embeddings. The results of the study partially confirm the findings of previous studies and raise new questions. In particular, the number of mentions of happiness dropped sharply in childrens literature in the 1920s. It can be assumed that the cancellation of happiness was the first stage in the formation of the Stalinist canon. The data also provides evidence that, starting in the Stalin period, emotions became much more relevant in the representation of happiness in childrens literature. This process could also be linked to the formation of the Stalinist canon.

To cite this article: Maslinsky, K. A. (2022). A century of happiness in childrens literature (19202020): A Stalinist canon and its long term consequences. Shagi/Steps, 8(4), 226247. (In Russian). https://doi.org/10.22394/2412-9410-2022-8-4-226-247.