‘Demonocracy’: New Doheny Library Exhibition Features Satirical Journals of Revolutionary Russia
In the tumultuous years following the failed Russian Revolution of 1905, a wave of satirical journals envisioned Russian political life as a phantasmagoria of devils, skeletons, and other ghoulish monsters. Beginning Friday, September 9, dozens of these creatively illustrated periodicals will be on display as part of Demonocracy: All Hell Breaks Loose in 1905 Russia, a new exhibition in Doheny Memorial Library's first-floor Treasure Room.
On January 22, 1905, a group of unarmed demonstrators marched toward Tsar Nicholas II's Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to deliver petitions demanding improved working conditions, political reforms, and an end to the Russo-Japanese War, in which Russia was faring poorly. Upon reaching the palace, the tsar's Imperial Guard fired on the crowd, killing hundreds to thousands of protesters. The incident, dubbed Bloody Sunday, sparked the Russian Revolution of 1905 and eventually led to a series of short-lived democratic reforms.
Among those reforms was an end to official censorship, allowing the Russian press to openly criticize—and satirize—the tsarist administration. Many of Russia's leading printers, artists, and writers contributed to the satirical journals featured in Demonocracy. These journals captured not only the exhilaration of Russia's newly-won freedoms but also a fascination among Russians with the demonic and the macabre. The USC Libraries are collaborating with the Institute of Modern Russian Culture, from whose collections the journals are drawn, to make nearly 600 issues available online through the USC Digital Library and the Russian Satirical Journals website.
Two events on Friday, September 9 mark the opening of the exhibition. From 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. in Doheny Library's Friends of the USC Libraries Lecture Hall (DML 240), leading scholars on art and visual culture in the imperial Russia come together for Poison Pens, a symposium on the satirical journals.
Then, at 5:00 p.m., the USC Libraries host an opening reception for Demonocracy on the first floor of Doheny Library. Light refreshments will be served. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP at www.usc.edu/esvp (code: RUSSIAN) or by calling (213) 740-1744.