Courses offered in 2006/2007
(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
Politics and Economy:
Contemporary Russian Politics: An Overview (Spring 2007).
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 (Fall 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
Political Theory and Russian Studies: the Main Concepts of
Russian Politics (Spring 2007).
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.
Russia and the World: the Foreign Policy of Russia and the
Former Soviet Union (Spring 2007).
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.
The State, Violence, and the Mafia in Comparative Perspective
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:
TBA (Lecturer to be announced). Russian 20th-century Art and Theory
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
Films, Texts, and Theory in Comparative Perspective (East vs. West)
This Cultural Studies course offers a view on selected Russian and East European
films and literary texts through the prism of modern philosophical and aesthetic
theory. The course’s main concern is the interpretation of selected films with
the help of the up-to-date theoretical apparatus, and the analysis of cinematic
and literary texts as means of reflection of certain cultural and social
tendencies and values. The course will also compare the treatment of certain
topics and subjects in “Western” and Russian/East-European cultures and
specifically in films. Among the theories explored will be the Psychological and
the Formalist Theory, the Myth and Structural Theory, Gender Theory, the issues
of the Individual and the Collective, Freudian and Lacanian approach,
Existentialism, Theories of Humor and Parody. Relationships between literary
works and plays, and their screen versions will be explored as well. The course
will cover films by Eisenstein, Kuleshov, Vertov, Tarkovsky, Konchalovsky,
Makaveev, Khytilova, Wajda, and other masters lesser known in the West.
Eduard Ponarin. Ethnic Issues in Post-Soviet Space (Fall
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
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
Mikhail Dolbilov. State, Nationalism and Religion in the Russian Empire’s
Borderlands (Fall 2006).
The course focuses on the dynamic and
uninterrupted processes of the empire building under the Romanov dynasty’s rule
from Peter the Great (1689-1725) to the First World War, as viewed first of all
from the perspective of multiethnic and multiconfessional composition of the
Russian empire. It is designed to overcome the failings of nation-centered
narratives that anachronistically apply the standards of a modern nation state
to studying the imperial dimensions of the pre-1917 Russian state.
The course aims at illuminating the key and, paradoxically, central role of the
imperial borderlands (in particular, the former lands of the Polish-Lithuanian
Commonwealth, the Baltic Region and the Grand Duchy of Finland, the North
Caucasus and Transcaucasia, Turkestan) in political, administrative, spatial and
representational structures of the empire. Of primary interest are various
interactions between the state policies, the evolution of loyalty and allegiance
patterns, and the shaping of ethno-cultural, ethno-confessional and national
identities of Russian and non-Russian groups under the imperial rule. Special
accent is to be placed on both alliance and tension between the imperial state
and the Russian nationalism in its secular and religious (based on the Russian
Orthodoxy) versions. Among other central subjects of the course are the
following: modes of governance in borderlands; relationship between the monarch
and the local elites; flexibility of the imperial strategies of assimilation and
acculturation (to not be subsumed under the single rubric “Russification”);
imagined geography of the empire; cultural phobias of imperial rulers. The
course offers elements of comparative analysis of policies and mentalities in
four contiguous empires – the Romanov, Habsburg, Hohenzollern, and Ottoman ones.
Seminar meetings will be devoted to topical issues of historiographic debates
about the Russian empire.
Boris Kolonitskii. The Political Culture of the Russian Revolution
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
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.
THE RUSSIAN LANGUAGE COURSE
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.