Studying Russia at The University of Chicago
The University of Chicago offers numerous courses at the graduate and undergraduate level on the history and culture of Russia. On this page you will find featured courses studying Russia as well as related news and upcoming events. For information about studying Russian at The University of Chicago please see our Languages of Study menu.
REES 25603/35603 Media and Power in the Age of Putin and Trump
Over the past 200 years, various political and cultural regimes of Russia have systematically exploited the gap between experience and representation to create their own mediated worlds--from the tight censorship of the imperial and Soviet periods to the propaganda of the Soviet period and the recent use of media simulacra for strategic geopolitical advantage. During this same period state control of media has been used to seclude Russia from the advancement of liberalism, market economics, individual rights, modernist art, Freud, Existentialism, and, more recently, Western discourses of inclusion, sustainability, and identity. Examining this history, it is sometimes difficult to discern whether the architects of Russian culture have been hopelessly backward or shrewd phenomenologists, keenly aware of the relativity of experience and of their ability to shape it. This course will explore the worlds that these practices produce, with an emphasis on Russia's recent confrontations with Western culture and power, and including various practices of subversion of media control, such as illegal printing and circulation. Texts for the course will draw from print, sound, and visual media, and fields of analysis will include aesthetics, cultural history, and media theory.
REES 42101 Collapse: The End of the Soviet Empire
This team-taught course invites students to reassess critically the meaning of the Soviet collapse on the occasion of its thirtieth anniversary. Topics to be examined include the neoliberal "shock therapy" economic reforms that ushered in a state of wild capitalism, the dissolution of the Soviet empire and rise of rise of new right nationalisms, and the formation of alternative artistic movements that resisted the economic and political devastation that accompanied the transition. The course pedagogy employs economic, political, historical, and aesthetic analysis to develop a robust understanding across a variety of disciplines and methodological approaches.
Consent required for undergraduate enrollment; email Professors Feldman and Hillis a paragraph long description about what you bring and what you hope to get out of this seminar.
REES 44001 Colloquium: Ending Communism
This course focuses on the demise of one of the most enduring, ambitious, appealing, transformative, and destructive political ideologies. We will consider the collapse of communism as a religion, an aesthetic, and a way of life, an economic system and a material culture, a political structure and an international order. We will also discuss communism's afterlives in biographies and memoirs (including those of scholars). Topics include reforms and revolutions, political and cultural dissent, generations and languages, secrecy and publicity, travel and immobility, competing religions and rival ideologies, the Cold War and détentes, privileges and shortages, apartment blocks and palaces of culture, the Gorky Park, the Memento Park, and other Luna Parks. Our readings will range across Europe, focusing primarily on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the last forty years of the twentieth century.
Upper-level undergraduates with consent of instructor.