In recent years the specter of authoritarian populism has begun to reappear in the West after long having been presumed vanquished for good. The turn toward authoritarianism is old news in Russia, where Vladimir Putin has loomed large over every aspect of culture and society for more than a decade, accused of being at the head of a regime based on tight controls on the media and on freedom of speech. But the arts, also controlled to a significant degree, have nevertheless - and in part due to the mediated nature of their forms of expression - provided one of the few outlets for commenting on government policy. In this seminar, we will focus on the questions of identity including class, gender, and religion as represented in contemporary Russian culture. We will cover a broad range of topics such as nationalism, LGBTQ rights, and Soviet nostalgia as well as discuss recent legislation, including the "gay propaganda" law (2013) and the decriminalization of domestic violence in Russia (2017). The course works with materials across genre and media, including fiction, cinema, performing arts, and graphic journalism. The primary sources are paired with critical readings, including the works of political activists such as Masha Gessen and Viktoria Lomasko as well as the theoretical writings of Judith Butler, Susan Sontag, and Michel Foucault.
(Taught in English.)
Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies the Liberal Studies requirement.
Satisfies a requirement in the Gender & Sexuality Studies major and minor.
No knowledge of Russian required or expected.