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Courses offered in 2005/2006

(each course consists of 14 lectures and 14 follow-up discussion sessions)

All instruction is in English

Politics and Economy
Society and Culture

IMARS Policy on Tutorials: Courses in which the number of registered students is less than 3 are taught in the format of tutorials, which means that less time will be spent in class and the students will meet with the instructor mainly for discussion sessions. This will not affect the amount of credits received for the course.

Politics and Economy:

Vladimir Gel’man. Contemporary Russian Politics: An Overview (Fall 2005).

This course focuses on post-Soviet political dynamics, with special emphasis on the "making" and "unmaking" of political structures and institutions. The topics discussed cover such issues as the present condition of presidency and parliamentarism, political parties, elections, federalism, and regional and local government in Russia.

Grigorii Golosov. Political Parties in Russia (Spring 2006).

This course is focused on the emergence of competitive political parties within the context of Russia’s partial democratization. Starting with the mass anti-regime mobilization of the late 1980s, the course traces the origins of contemporary political parties by examining the national electoral campaigns of 1993, 1995, and 1996, and regional executive and legislative elections. Special attention is given to the organizational aspects of party system formation under constraints imposed upon political actors by post-communist institutional settings, including strong presidency, federalism, and a parallel electoral system.

Oleg Kharkhordin. Political Theory and Russian Studies: the Main Concepts of Russian Politics (Spring 2006).

The course will discuss theoretical approaches to the study of Soviet and Russian politics, concentrating on persisting interesting continuities that eschew positing conventional breaks of 1917 or 1991 as points of major change. It will offer a survey of the main concepts used in the analysis of the XXth century Russian politics-"state," "civil society," "nation," "the individual," "the collective," etc.-with an emphasis on their perception in everyday life. Some background knowledge of political theory is useful; however, necessary works of major political theorists will be included in the syllabus and discussed together with interpretations of Russian politics.

Nikita Lomagin. Russia and the World: the Foreign Policy of Russia and the Former Soviet Union (Spring 2006).

This course offers a comparative look at the making and implementation of Russian Foreign Policy after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The course offers a combination of two options. We shall begin with an investigation of the sources of the Russian conduct (theories, frameworks and approaches) and analyze Russia’s foreign policy institutions and priorities. We will examine several theoretical models that focus on the impact of different factors on Russian Foreign Policy: type of government, ideology, leadership politics, bureaucratic and interest group politics, the European security system, Russia’s historic borderlands and "empire," and the international economic system. The second part of the course is aimed at close examination of regional aspects of Russian Foreign Policy with particular attention to relations with the West, newly independent states of the former Soviet Union, and the Far East.

TBA (Lecturer to be announced). Political Economy of the Post-Communist Transitions (Spring 2006).

The course will focus on the politics of economic reform. It will evaluate the political factors that have shaped the reform process-actors, institutions and culture. It will examine such areas as macro-economic reform, fiscal and tax policy, and privatization. The Russian case will be examined in a comparative context.

Vadim Volkov. The State, Violence, and the Mafia in Comparative Perspective (Spring 2006).

This course addresses the major complication of Russia’s transition to the market economy: the weakening of the state and the rise of organized crime. This problem is examined from interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives. The first, theoretical part of the course focuses on historical relations between states and markets. The purpose of the second part is to achieve understanding of structural conditions, economic functions and cultural patterns of violent entrepreneurship in Russia, and to assess its effects on the Russian state. Apart from theoretical readings, students will be offered a selection of Russian original sources on criminal groups, their practices and subculture. Other topics covered include theories of the state in different traditions of thought, the idea of sovereignty and its prerequisites, formative conditions and major functions of the state.

Society and Culture:

Ekaterina Degot’. Russianness, Sovietness, Post-Sovietness: Strategies of Identity in Russian 20th-century Art and Theory (Fall 2005).

This course will explore one of the main issues in Russian 20th-century art: its response to the challenge of Western Modernism, from the critique of the bourgeois individualism and the market in Russian futurism to the critique of globalization on the post-Soviet art scene. Particular attention will be given to most important projects of Russian art: avant-garde, Socialist Realism, and Moscow conceptualism. The problem is seen from interdisciplinary perspective, and the course will include references to literature, architecture, and film. Since 20th-century art (especially Russian art) is focused on ideas rather than forms, art theory will be an important topic, and readings for the class will include statements and essays by artists and theoreticians (Kandinsky, Malevich, Russian constructivists, and Ilya Kabakov, among others). Because many of those sources are not available in the translation, a knowledge of Russian would be an advantage.

Evgenii Golovko. The Russian Arctic Region in the 20th century: Rapid Social and Cultural Change (Spring 2006).

This course offers an overview of the present social, ethnological and ethno-linguistic situation in the Russian "Far North" – a vast sub-Arctic and Arctic area that stretches from the North of the Ural mountains to the Northern Pacific. The main emphasis is on the current, "post-socialist" circumstances of Northern minority groups who constitute the indigenous population of "the North." The situation is analyzed from social, anthropological, historical, and socio-linguistic perspectives. Among the topics discussed in the course are the following: neo-elites and changes of attitude in the 1990s; ethnicity and identity; shamanism and the orthodoxy; the orthodoxy and the Soviets; current problems of education; language situation; constructing and reinventing the tradition; patterns of cultural contact and cultural mixture.

Pavel Lyssakov. Media and Mass Communication: Contemporary Methodology in the Post-Soviet Context (Fall 2005).

This course will familiarize the audience with some up-to-date theoretical tools (mostly Western) that can and have been used in the analysis of modern media. It will also examine the possibilities of applying these tools to contemporary Russian media. Such an application is particularly justified by the growing globalization processes that force the Russian media either to develop "naturally" in the direction of the Western model or to copy Western media products and modes of production directly. The course is geared specifically towards young social sciences scholars who are not specialists in either media or journalism. Among the topics covered will be: the media and its genres; semiotics and the analysis of meaning; media technology, institutions, production and consumption; public sphere and democracy; social impacts of the media. Special attention will be given to recent developments, such as the Internet ("") as a medium or Reality TV as a genre, and to innovative--in the Russian context--approaches, such as studies of news as a commodity or advertising as a means of communication. Each session will include a discussion of an appropriate case study based on contemporary Russian material.

Eduard Ponarin. Ethnic Issues in Post-Soviet Space (Fall 2005).

This course examines the role of the ethnic factor in the dissolution of the Soviet Union and in post-Soviet conflicts. It begins with a survey of theories of nationalism. The theories are then applied to the late Soviet period and a particular emphasis is made on the Soviet institutionalization of ethnicity. In the second part of the course, various theoretical approaches are checked against a number of post-Soviet cases.

Anna Temkina and Elena Zdravomyslova. Gender Issues in Contemporary Russia (Spring 2006).

This course will introduce students to the study of gender issues in Russia. The course focuses on the reproduction of gender inequality and on opportunities for social change. Topics for discussion include: Russian gender culture in historical perspective and its conceptualization (women's movements, women's issues and man's question in the 20-th century), contemporary gender culture (transformation of the gender arrangements during the last two decades). Gender inequality is examined within the spheres of economy and employment, politics, family, sexuality and citizenship as well as in the filed of symbolic representation.


Boris Kolonitskii. The Political Culture of the Russian Revolution (Fall 2005).

This course is devoted to the language of the Revolution. Central topics include different images of power, political functions of revolutionary symbols (flags, songs, uniforms, etc.), the lexicon of the Revolution. The course also explores different connotations of key political words (‘democracy’, ‘bourgeoisie’, ‘freedom’, etc.). The Revolution is viewed as a battle to control systems of symbolic meaning. Political actors tried to monopolize important political words and symbols and give them their own interpretation. Other topics of the course also include the cult of the revolutionary leader and the images of the enemy.

Sergei Podbolotov. Russian Political and Social History (Spring 2006).

The first part of this course aims at tracing the evolution of forms of political and social organization preceding the emergence of modern Russia. Special attention will be given to changes in political institutions, relations between rulers and their subjects, local government, social strata, the Russian religious mind, and the origins of patriotism and ethnicity. The second part gives an overview of the development of the state and society in imperial Russia and the Soviet Union. Specifically, it aims at providing a comparative perspective on the processes of modernization in Russia and in the rest of Europe. Discussion sessions will concentrate on major debates about the key problems of modern Russian history.

Ekaterina Pravilova. Social History of Imperial Russia: an Introduction (Fall 2005).

This course is designed to provide a general overview of major issues in Russian social history from different perspectives, such as the nature of the Russian social order (problems of social stratification in Russia in the 18th-19th centuries, state policy and its role in shaping Russian society), law (diverse views on property and justice, rules and practices of disputes resolution among different social groups), economics (what peasants/nobles/workers/merchants lived on, how much they earned and how they spent their money, the social causes and consequences of the Russian industrialization and agrarian development), politics (the emergence of public sphere in Russia and its internal divisions, public opinion and public activities as factors influencing governmental reforms), nationalism and regionalism (relations between the Russians and the non-Russian peoples of the Empire). The course will include lectures and seminar meetings. Seminars will be devoted to the analysis of current debates in historiography. A variety of social historical sources will be used, such as memoirs, private correspondence, and petitions (all in English translation).

THE RUSSIAN LANGUAGE COURSE (Instructor-Kapitolina Fedorova)

This is an optional course. It covers all the basic aspects of the language: pronunciation, grammar, reading, and writing. Classes will focus mainly on everyday conversational language and on developing communication skills. Russian mass media and discussions of hot political and social issues are an important part of the course. Placement tests are run early in September and February to establish prospective students’ proficiency level. At the end of the course a final test may be administered and certificates are issued upon request.


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