RUSS 204
To See the Past: Russian and Soviet Cinema on History Spring 2025
Division I
Cross-listed COMP 204 / GBST 204

Class Details

This course surveys Soviet and Russian cultural history of the 20th- and 21st-centuries through the history of the cinematic medium. We will watch and analyze key films of this period–films by Eisenstein, Vertov, Tarkovsky, Muratova, Balabanov, Zviagintsev, and Fedorchenko among others–from a double perspective. On the one hand, we will study the cultural and historical contexts of the Soviet Union and Russia; on the other hand, we will learn the formal and stylistic aspects of the cinematic medium as it developed historically (from silent, to sound, to color, to digital etc.). From this double perspective, we will try to answer a larger question that underlies this course: What kind of historical thinking can we learn through cinema as a medium? In other words, we will take cinema neither simply as a direct reflection of state ideology nor as pure aesthetic form or entertainment for the masses. Rather, we will approach the films of this period as audio-visual texts that are rich in historical content and require our informed and attentive interpretation.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3221
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: For each class you'll watch 1or 2 film(s) and read typically 1 article under 20 pages. You will submit short viewing response before each class. Additionally, there will be short viewing or creative assignments to familiarize students with formal aspects of film. Evaluation will be based on participation, one presentation, short sequence analysis, and final paper or video essay
Prerequisites: none, open to all students
Enrollment Preferences: declared or prospective Russian or Comparative Literature majors, Russian Certificate seekers, Global Studies concentrators
Distributions: Division I
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
RUSS 204 Division I COMP 204 Division I GBST 204 Division II
Attributes: GBST Russian + Eurasian Studies

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