Courses offered in 2007/2008
(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 2008).
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 and Elections in Russia
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 1993-2004, 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.
Political Theory and Russian Studies: the Main Concepts of
Russian Politics (Spring 2008).
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 2008).
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:
Evgenii Golovko. The Russian Arctic Region in the 20th century:
Rapid Social and Cultural Change (Spring 2008).
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
Pavel Lyssakov. Films, Texts, and Theory in Comparative
Perspective (East vs. West) (Fall 2007).
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.
Dimitri Ozerkov, Stanislav Savitskii. Utopia & Identity: Russian
20th century Art (Fall 2007)
In this course Russian art is considered in the context of history of a
totalitarian culture. The course focuses on the interrelationship
between the Soviet utopian society and art communities, which transforms
both the role and the self-representation of the artist. The structure
of the course is not chronological. In the framework of totalitarian
problematics we propose to trace back the development of Russian art of
the 20th century from two points of view: on the one hand, as part of
the Western Modernist tradition that essentially influenced it in many
respects, on the other, as a cultural experience of the Soviet utopia
that still remains a prominent, and historically unexplained phenomena
of the last century. We start with contemporary art technologies and the
problem of invasion of technologies in Western Modernist art since the
19th century. Then, considering the cases of influence of the Western
tradition on Russian art, we come to the most famous and interesting
examples of the Avant-Garde at the beginning of the political project of
the new communist society. The course ends with the problematics of
Symbolism as the first Utopian link in the chain of evolution of Russian
20th century art.
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 and Sexuality in Soviet
and Post-Soviet Russia. (Spring 2008)
This course will introduce students to the study of gender issues and
sexuality in Russia. It focuses on the reproduction of gender inequalities and
on opportunities for social change. The course moves from pre-revolutionary
Russia through the twentieth-century Soviet period and then to recent
transformations. We analyze the methodology of gender studies and examine its
relevance for the research of Soviet and post-Soviet societies. 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
20th century), and contemporary gender transformation in different post-Soviet
contexts. For comparative purposes we shall discuss gender transformation in
Armenia and Tajikistan. Gender inequality is examined within the spheres of
economy, politics, family, sexuality, as well as in the field of symbolic
representations. Biographical interviews, mass-media and literary texts, and
films will supplement critical analysis of gendered practices and structures.
Mikhail Dolbilov. State, Nationalism and Religion in the Russian Empire’s
Borderlands (Fall 2007).
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.