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CCU dean to discuss Soviet propaganda posters

April 22, 2008

William Richardson, dean of the Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts at Coastal Carolina University, will give a public talk titled "Soviet Posters and Utopian Dreams" Tuesday April 29 at 3 p.m. in the Wall Auditorium on campus. Richardson's talk is the keynote address of Coastal's Phi Alpha Theta history honor society spring induction. The event is free and open to the public.

Richardson will discuss how the Soviet regime used poster art as a medium of mass education, persuasion and propaganda. His talk will focus on the period beginning with the revolution of 1917 through the death of Stalin in 1953.

"The posters of the early Soviet Union communicate a great deal about the nature of Soviet society and its cultural and political aims," says Richardson. "They convey a range of messages, from the literacy campaign of the 1920s, the industrialization and agricultural collectivization plans of the 1930s to the militaristic and patriotic themes of the World War II period." The posters present a "utopian" image of Soviet life, which was often in stark contrast to reality, according to Richardson.

In addition to their function as propaganda, Richardson says the posters are "also surprisingly creative and original visually," reflecting the aesthetic styles of various early 20th century currents in art.

Richardson earned bachelor's degrees in Russian and history from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He earned both a master's degree and a doctorate in history from the University of California, Berkeley. He joined the Coastal faculty in 2006.