• Cult-A. Post-Cold War Culture in Russia and the United States: Questions of Convergence

    (Timothy Portice, Middlebury College)

    This Seminar is available to all students. No background required. Recommended for students interested in comparative cultural studies

    This course will take a comparative approach to pressing contemporary cultural issues in Russia and the United States.  In doing so, we will compare, contrast, and evaluate two broad and mutually opposed hypotheses.  The first, widespread both in Russian studies and in the general social consciousness, holds that the cultural development of Russia and the United States are different on an essential level, due in large part to the stark ideological differences that manifested over the course of the 20th century.  The second, less common but perhaps more pertinent in light of recent events, emphasizes similarity over difference.  Among these one might include the shared legacy of post-industrialism in Russia and the United States, shifting notions of empire and imperial nostalgia in the 21st century, and new political strategies of control and resistance in response to recent developments in technology.  As a final project, each course participant will compose a short essay drawing on the theoretical frameworks presented in the course, and apply them to a contemporary topic of their choice.    

    Preliminary list of topics:

    1. Studying Russia: an extraordinarily brief and general overview.
    2. The role of St. Petersburg in history and the arts.
    3. Reversed perspectives: Russian and American views of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
    4. Logics of late capitalist masculinity in the United States and Russia:  Fight Club (1999) and Brother 2 (2000)
    5. Welcome to the 21st century:  Imperialist turns in Russian and American culture (2001-2008)
    6. Performance art and political dissent in Russia and the United States.
    7. On Edge: Maidan and the war in Ukraine.
    8. Mass Media and the 2016 U.S. Election cycle.
    9. Recent developments in US-Russian relations, and possibilities for the future.