Birthday Song

For my blog post on music, I have decided to discuss the “Russian Birthday Song.” As we discussed in a fairly recent joint class, the Russian version of “Happy Birthday” is very different. I found a series of translations online and have included the links at the bottom. The lyrics describe the surrounding environment as profoundly negative (rainy, clumsy pedestrians etc). Despite the apparent happiness of the birthday boy/girl, there are more negative and strange aspects of the lyrics worth noting.… Read the rest here

Joint Class Film

In the last joint class, we viewed a clip from a film during which a Russian family argued aggressively during a family vacation outside. During our deconstruction of the clip as a class, we noted some of the more important characteristics such as the strong use of vulgar language, the location as an outdoor environment and so on. All of these aspects helped to represent a change in traditional norms. However, there was another directorial decision that we did not discuss in class.… Read the rest here

Stent Response

Last night, Angela Stent came to speak at Dickinson. The discussion encompassed a range of post-Soviet Union politics in relation to the United States. One of the points she made that I found most interesting was (in her words) that “Russia does not really have any allies.” Our class has covered an enormous amount of historical material on Russia at this point, but we have yet to discuss the last two decades in any kind of detail.… Read the rest here

Gulag Theatre

After our joint class today, I found myself reflecting on the notion of “re-education.” As a theatre major, I find it extremely that a large portion of the “academic” (for lack of a better word) structure in the camps was theatrical. For example, the prisoners would put on plays that they themselves wrote, always of course within the constraints of soviet political ideology.

In my own life experiences, theatre has been a means by which I access my education but not necessarily what I would consider to be my education in full form.… Read the rest here

On Wednesday’s class we discussed Russia’s involvement in pre-WWII politics. One of the themes of that class that most interested me was Russia’s involvement in rising leftist regimes around the world. As we discussed, Stalin was initial more in favor of a mass improvement within the State rather than focusing than the globalization of communism. However, Russia provided “aid” to countries such as China in order to promote the rise of leftist governments. After observing the balance of political perspectives in class, my question is this.… Read the rest here

Russia and Modern Conflicts

I found an interesting article on CNN’s website concerning Russia and it’s involvement with  the conflict between North Korea and the modern world. The basic premise of the article (here is the link http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/03/07/to-tackle-north-korea-focus-on-russia-and-china/?iref=allsearch ) is that neighboring countries should take an interest in preventing North Korea from becoming a nuclear power. However, the article states that the largest concern (or necessary point of change) is the enabling behavior of Russia and China. Essentially, the author believes that we need a little team work.… Read the rest here

Too scientific too early?

One thing that has struck me as unique about Russian history is the people’s dedication to a scientific manner of thinking even in inappropriate contexts. Somehow, even artistic venues for thought were broken down systematically with a direct objective and means of achieving said goal. To me, this is a very scientific way of thinking. Socialist Realism, for example, could be seen as something of an equation. Russians always had an end goal in mind, but the means of achieving these goals were often unfinished, sloppy or simply flawed.… Read the rest here

The Body

A theme that is becoming more apparent to me in this class is the role of the human body. As we discussed in the group class, revolutionaries would often dig up the graves of saints in order to prove that the dead bodies do in fact decay, contrary to religious belief. While this is a very literal example, there are also examples in literature that we can observe. For example, Rakhmetov devotes an enormous amount of time to improving his body.Like… Read the rest here

So far, we have encountered Rakhmetov and Chapeav. Both are, in a sense, ideal revolutionaries. However, the two characters are extremely different. Rakhmetov relies entirely on his physical and mental well being in order to strive for success. He works out consistently, trains his mind through reading and exercise and fights nearly every carnal human vice (such as sexual desire). He is well read and comes from a mysterious yet somewhat affluent background. Chapeav, however, is illiterate.… Read the rest here

In our process of learning about the Revolutionary period, one idea in particular stands out to me. This idea is the concept of “devoting yourself to a revolution.” Rakhmetov, for example gives up an entire lifestyle of carnal indulgence for the sake of personal improvement. This can be seen through his vigorous exercises, celibacy, strict diet and constant acquiring of knowledge. As we discussed in class, this is precisely the kind of professional revolutionary that Lenin wanted.… Read the rest here