The Putin Phenomenon: Culture and Politics in Recent Russian History (COMPLIT 103)
A man who likes to ride horses shirtless. An autocrat who has shaped contemporary Russia and won't let go of the reins. A conniver who interferes in international democratic processes toward his own nefarious ends.nMore than a politician or an individual, "Putin" has become a catch-all that stands in for Russia as a whole. In this course, we'll attempt to separate the man from the myth and to understand the historical and cultural context behind Putin's policies. In the process, we will strive better to grasp contemporary Russian society as a complex and culturally rich environment, not just an oppressed land under the thumb of one man.nIn the course of our analysis, we will examine literary and cultural artifacts and expressive works that engage with political, social, and universal human problems in a Russian and post-Soviet context, interpreting and critiquing those cultural objects with an eye to aesthetic methods and qualities and also how they reflect historical and cultural elements of Russia over a 25-year period. Cultural products to be addressed include literature and film (and one graphic novel) from the Perestroika period through the present day. We will also read President Putin's autobiography, First Person, and several of his speeches, using techniques of literary analysis to parse the particular story about Russia that he aims to convey to Russians. By examining and exploring a range of cultural objects from Russia's recent history, we seek to understand the forces that contributed to social and political change over those years, the effect those changes had on ordinary (and extraordinary) Russians, and how those effects take on meaningful aesthetic form through creative expression.