From Putin to Pussy Riot: Discourses of Post-Soviet Gender
Division I; Difference, Power, and Equity;
Cross-listed as GBST213 / WGSS214 / COMP257 / 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. 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 Ukrainian feminist collective Femen, the Eurovision Song Contest, 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. All readings will be in English, and all films with have English subtitles.
The Class: Type: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: active participation in class discussions, several response papers, two short papers (3-5 pages each), and a final project
Enrollment Preference: none
Distributions: Division I; Difference, Power, and Equity;
Distribution Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under RUSS or COMP; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under GBST or WGSS This course is part of the Difference, Power, and Equity requirement 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.
Attributes: GBST Russian + Eurasian Studies Electives