Russia is accustomed to playing the role of the "evil empire." The current ongoing war in Ukraine has resurrected the Cold War-era narratives about Russia as a dark, aggressive, and ruthless military power. The notorious legislation of recent years-whose functions range from barring Americans from adopting Russian orphans to criminalizing the so-called "gay propaganda"-have further solidified Russia's reputation as a country with little regard for human rights. Yet generations of Russian poets, artists, and writers have transformed the country's systematic oppression and violence into spectacular forms of protest and self-expression. This course focuses on gender and sexuality in exploring an alternative cultural history of Russia, which highlights its queer legacy from the nineteenth century to the present. We will examine poetry, fiction, art, memoirs, plays, films, performances, and discursive texts that showcase uniquely Russian conceptions of marriage, gender relations, gender expression, and sexual identity. Attention will be paid to the ways in which Russian and Western narratives of queerness align and diverge. In English. No knowledge of Russian is required or expected.
Satisfies major and minor requirements in Russian Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies.
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies Literary Studies, Creative Writing and Rhetoric distribution requirement.