WGSS 217
Extreme Persuasions: The Far Right in the United States and Russia
Last Offered Spring 2021
Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed RUSS 218 / AMST 219
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

The purpose of this course is to explore the unexpected recent confluence of the American and Russian far-right movements, among advocates for authoritarianism in both countries who have traditionally understood the ‘other’ superpower to be an implacable enemy. How have nationalist movements in the United States come to see the Russian Federation as a vanguard for ‘whiteness’ and traditional masculinity in European identity, overturning the perception of Russia as a racial Other that was prevalent among American conservatives during the Cold War? What are the affinities between the imperial and openly patriarchal aspirations of Putinism and the goals of American religious Reconstructionism, with its interpretation of the Confederacy as a God-given model for racial separatism and gender complementarianism? We will discuss repressive historical legacies and homophobia in both countries, devoting particular attention to debates about protest art and the removal of monuments, and to movements that situate themselves in opposition to neoliberal forms of ethno-nationalism.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 4668
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: On average, there will be 100 pages of reading per week. Over the course of the semester, students will be required to view three films, which will be discussed in class. Class participation counts for 25% of the course grade; each of the first three response papers, 15%; the term paper, 25%; the in-class presentation of the term paper, 5%.
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Majors and concentrators in AMST, Russian, and Women's and Gender Studies.
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
RUSS 218 Division I AMST 219 Division II WGSS 217 Division II
WS Notes: The written work is comprised of three response papers (5-7 pages each), a rough draft of the term paper (8-10 pages) that will be ungraded but extensively commented upon, and the term paper itself (10-15 pages). Each student to discuss their writing strategies prior to the deadlines for the essay assignments. For the essays, students may choose from among a range of prompts, or design a topic of their own.
DPE Notes: Students will use the assigned readings as points of departure for analyzing and responding to traditionalist configurations of gender and ethno-nationalism in the United States and the Russian Federation. Particular attention will be devoted to the proliferation of different conceptions of power and privilege in both countries, and to ways in which a parsing of them may facilitate an engagement with the arguments of far right movements while retaining the concept of social justice.
Attributes: AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives

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