INST 213 Fall 2014 From Putin to Pussy Riot: Discourses of Post-Soviet Gender (D)

Cross Listed as WGSS214, RUSS213
Before 1991, Russians typically appeared in the Western media as macho villains in the nuclear arms race or a James Bond film. Today, however, news from the Former Soviet Union often sounds like a bizarrely gendered media stunt. For example, Russian president Vladimir Putin has been photographed topless while fishing on vacation in Siberia, while the feminist punk-rock collective Pussy Riot protested Putin's regime by performing in day-glo balaclavas in Russia's largest cathedral. This course examines related post-Soviet media spectacles in the attempt to understand the Western press's fascination with Russia, as well as key social trends defining the post-Soviet era. We will focus on the ways in which gender and sexuality have come to mark post-Soviet culture and discourse as different from those in the West. In addition to Vladimir Putin and Pussy Riot, we will consider the so-called crisis of masculinity in post-Soviet Russia, the trafficking of women from the Former Soviet Union, the revival of indigenous practices such as bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan and Buzkashi in Tajikistan, the Ukrainian feminist collective Femen, the Eurovision Song Context, and the 2013 legislation in the Russian Federation banning homosexual propaganda among minors. We will try to understand how concepts, such as feminism, tolerance of sexual minorities, and performed gender, have been deemed dangerous in the post-Soviet East at the very time they have attained normative status in the West. This course is part of the Exploring Diversity Initiative because it engages in cultural comparison, explores how power and privilege are allocated differently in post-Soviet societies than in Western liberal democracies, and engages in the critical theorization of post-Soviet culture and discourse. All readings will be in English.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: active participation in class discussions, response papers based on assignments for class, 2 papers (3-5 pages each) on relevant current events in the post-Soviet world, and a final project
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Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: none
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Distribution Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under RUSS; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under INST or WGSS
Divisional Attributes: Division II,Exploring Diversity
Other Attributes: INST Russian + Eurasian Studies Electives
Enrollment Limit: none
Expected Enrollment: 15
Class Number: 1236
INST 213 - 01 (F) SEM Post-Soviet Gender (D) Division 2: Social StudiesExploring Diversity Initiative Julie A. Cassiday
MR 1:10 PM-2:25 PM Greylock Makepeace 1236
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