9-21C Russia:Srch for Identity
This course surveys Russian cultural and social history from the middle ages to the present, while exploring Russia’s distinctive cultural identity and its representation in literature and art. Russia’s cultural self-reflection is shown as a dialectical process embracing evolutionary and revolutionary stages, periods of continuity and rupture. The chief objective of the course is to understand Russia’s changing cultural self-perspective against the changing socio-historical context. As the course proceeds from one historical period to another, we will witness and try to explain why some facets of Russian cultural identity remain intact (immune to the changing historical and social conditions), while others are rendered obsolete. Among issues discussed are: Russia’s missionary ambition, its positioning itself vis-à-vis other countries and cultures, the tension between patriotic and dissident tendencies, and the changing cultural codes and rituals. The course materials draw on chronicles and folk tales, homilies, epistolary texts, philosophical treatises, literary works, memoires, literary criticism and journalism, trade treaties, manifestos, historical readings, paintings, cultural-analytical readings, films, opera and ballet.