Slavic 134N: Russia and Asia: Orientalism, Eurasianism, Internationalism

MWF 3-4, 228 Dwinelle. Instructor: Edward Tyerman.

Units: 4 Satisfies L&S Arts & Literature breadth requirement.

Modern Russian culture has developed with a complex sense of spatial identity between “East” and “West.” While many approaches to Russia focus on its relationship to the West, this class offers a cultural history of Russian encounters with Asia. We will explore cultural expressions in literature, film and visual art of the relationship between Russia and Asia, focusing on Russian encounters with three spaces: the Caucasus, Central Asia, and East Asia. As a state that crosses the border between the spaces designated as “Europe and “Asia,” Russia has approached Asia as an imperial colonizer, as an anti-imperialist ally, and as a Eurasian relative. Accordingly, the course employs three interpretative lenses to investigate the Russian relationship to Asia: Orientalism, Eurasianism and Internationalism. How fitting is the model of Orientalism for a culture that has been Orientalized by the West and, arguably, has at times Orientalized itself? How does the ideology of Eurasianism, arising in the early 20th century and asserting a cultural kinship between Russian and Turkic peoples, seek to redraw the geography of Russia’s relations with East and West? Should socialist internationalism, proclaimed in the wake of the Russian Revolution of 1917, be considered an inversion of the imperial dynamic, or its extension in a new guise?
Required texts for purchase:

Leo Tolstoy, Hadji Murat, trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
Andrei Platonov, Soul and Other Stories, trans. Robert Chandler et al.
Chingiz Aitmatov, The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years, trans. John French.
Xiao Hong, Market Street: A Chinese Woman in Harbin, trans. Howard Goldblatt.

All other texts will be available for download on bCourses