REE 325 • Russia and its World: History and Culture-W
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
This course will attempt the impossible: to explain why Americans are so fascinated by Russia . The answer may lie in the fact that this expansive maxi-country (or mini-world), separated from our own country at the Bering Strait by a mere 2.5 miles of shallow seawater, is both a mirror-image of America and its opposite. The feeling is mutual: Russia has gone from a colonial conquerer of its continent and indigenous people to being the Anti- (Bizarro?) America to unbridled commercial capitalism, all the time trying to relate itself to Europe in particular and history in general. Understanding this relationship could lead to better understanding ourselves. Coursework will consist of lectures, reading, and discussion in English on the political and cultural history of Russia , from its prehistoric origins to the events of 1917 leading to communist rule.. Special emphasis will be on enduring themes of cultural identity, imagination, and conflict, both with neighboring peoples and within. The backbone of the course is a sketch of the history of the Russian people, from their origins to today. From this structure we will make forays to sample the best of the cultural world at each period in time. Class presentations will highlight creative work especially in art, architecture, and music. Included will be tours of Russia 's capitals Moscow and St. Petersburg as fascinating preserves of historical and cultural values, alongside the delights of modern urban life.
Three in-class exams: 40% Four writing assignments: 50% Class participation: 10%
Hosking, Geoffrey. Russia and the Russians: A history . Cambridge , MA : Harvard University Press, 2003. Paperback. Additional readings will be made available in a course packet.