Behind the Iron Curtain

Primary Number: RU 33500

ConStudies Number: CNST 33200

ConStudies CRN: 20319

Primary CRN: 20313

Instructor: Wang, Emily

Day/Time: MW 2:00pm-3:15pm

Attributes: FNAR - old Core Fine Arts MESE - European Studies Course WKAL - new Core Art & Literature

Location: Decio Faculty Hall 128

Was the Soviet Union a "workers paradise" or an "evil empire?" Nearly three decades after this country transformed into what we now call "post-Soviet space," the legacy of the USSR looms large in international politics and culture. This course will offer students an introduction to Soviet history through film, which Lenin famously called "the most important of the arts," and literature, which Soviet writers used to "engineer human souls." Since the 1917 Revolution, art has had a close relationship to the Soviet state. At the same time, writers and filmmakers with individualistic and even rebellious tendencies have created some of the twentieth century's greatest masterpieces, including Dziga Vertov's Man With a Movie Camera and Mikhail Bulgakov's Master and Margarita. In this class we will explore how this tense relationship between art and the state developed in the first half of the twentieth century. Since cultural context is an important lens for our analysis, each artistic work will be accompanied by historical readings about the period in which it was produced, as well as artistic manifestos and contemporary reviews, when relevant. All films will be shown with subtitles and all readings offered in English. Students of the Russian language have the option of discussing the course material in Russian once a week with the instructor in a group for an additional course credit.