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Type: Theses
Title: Anglo-American discourse about the USSR, 1984-1986
Author: Watson, Melody Catherine
Issue Date: 2017
School/Discipline: School of Humanities
Abstract: This thesis examines mainstream discourses about the Soviet Union in the United States and United Kingdom from 1984 to 1986. For more than 50 years, the Soviet Union presented an alternate image of modernity to that pursued by the USA and the UK. The Soviet Union was one of the great ‘Others’ against which the West, along with liberalism and democracy, could be defined. When commentators began to describe the Soviet Union as changing in the 1980s, this had far-reaching implications. As such, this thesis asks how the events of the 1980s, especially the rise of Gorbachev, were explained and discursively interpreted. Which discourses changed, and which ones remained the same? How were new events used to justify or disrupt traditional narratives about the USSR, which were themselves grounded in traditional narratives about Russia? More specifically, this thesis addresses the ways in which important political figures and journalists changed or reinforced the ways that they described the world. An important part of this is understanding the place that Gorbachev occupied in Anglo-American discourse: did he challenge criticisms of the USSR or did he reinforce them, and was he reconceptualised by these discursive actors for the sake of maintaining the consistency of their discourses? It is also necessary to elaborate key narratives about the Soviet Union that had existed since the earliest meetings between the British and Russians, and demonstrate the way in which discourses about the USSR never truly departed from these frameworks. These topics have significance not just for understanding Anglo-American self-image, but also the nature of the late Cold War and the ways we attempt to make Eastern Europe explicable in the twenty-first century. I approach these discourses through a study of political and newspaper commentary. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher are key figures whose discourse makes for strong case studies in both change and resilience. I also consider significant journalists, including foreign correspondents and political columnists like William Safire, Ian Davidson, and Martin Walker. The sources that I use are those considered public. They were intended for widespread and open consumption. Above all, I analyse articles which discuss the USSR in several prominent newspapers: The Times, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Financial Times. I also use speeches by, and interviews with, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. As far as is practical, I approach these sources in a systematic fashion. The purpose of this is to demonstrate the existence and evolution of certain discourses, not to present a comprehensive picture of everything that was said about the USSR in this period.
Advisor: Pritchard, Gareth
Drapac, Vesna Maria
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Humanities, 2017.
Keywords: 1980's
Soviet Union
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
DOI: 10.25909/5b874184c13f8
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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