The Russian provinces (that is, the entire country beyond the “two capitals” of Moscow and St Petersburg) are often presented as static and stagnant, dull, primitive, corrupt, and homogeneous. They are also often imagined as the “true Russia”, untouched by pernicious Western influences, providing direct contact with an authentic “Russian-ness” (especially in the core Slavic areas of European Russia). These paradoxes express much about the divided sense of national identity often encountered in Russian culture, and this course will explore that divided identity through a series of literary texts, travelers’ tales, films, and other materials.
Short bi-weekly reflection papers and a final paper. This course will use the i>clicker response system.
No knowledge of Russian is required.
The course is required for students planning to participate in the 2012 Project RUSLAN Alternative Spring Break in Russia (applications to be made through MCompass, contact the instructors for more details), and they are the primary audience for whom this course has been designed. The course will help students participating in the ASB to maximize the intellectual and cultural benefits of their program in Russia, providing them with exposure to a wide range of materials that relate to concepts of the “provincial” in Russia. The course is also open to students who do not plan to apply to the ASB program and will be of interest to anyone curious about the contrasts of Russia today, however, non-ASB students should be aware that the instructors have designed “The Russian Heartland” primarily as a membership course for a specific program, and therefore expect everyone to keep up with all reading and other assignments, study them carefully, and be ready to discuss them in class every week.