This 360° cluster focuses on the unique ties between Russia and its largest neighbor to the East, China. Reflected in the culture of the two countries but also in the manner in which contemporary Russia has recently pivoted away from Western Europe toward the East, the relationship between Russia and China has long had profound geopolitical as well as cultural and social significance. In studying both Russia’s east-west cultural dynamic and the environment on China’s western frontier, we hope to gain special insight into the always-evolving interrelationship between Russia and China. Students will study both Russian and Chinese language in preparation for their train trip through Siberia, Mongolia, and China in March.
This cluster has been made possible by generous grants from the Henry Luce Foundation.
Eurasia in Flux Courses:
East Asian Languages and Culture 353: The Environment on China's Frontiers
This seminar, taught by Yonglin Jiang, explored environmental issues on China’s frontiers from a historical perspective. Specifically, it addressed broad questions including how the environment has defined the human frontier experiences, how the human activities changed the environment on the frontiers, and how human values affected the environmental changes on the frontiers. The frontier regions under discussion included Tibet, Xinjiang (Chinese Turkestan), Inner Mongolia, and the southwestern ethnic areas, which are all important in defining what China is and who the Chinese are.
Russian 209: Russia and the East: Siberia in Russian Culture
Exploring Russia’s ties to the East from a variety of historical, artistic, and social perspectives, this course aims to explore Russian culture’s Eurasian essence, particularly cultural manifestations of Russia’s eastern orientation: Russian philosophy at the turn into the 20th century that emphasized Russia’s eastern, mystical focus; Russian symbolist poetry and prose that amplified Russia’s ties to the East; silent cinema of the 1920s that linked revolution to the East; non-fiction accounts of penal colonies and work camps scattered throughout Siberia (with particular emphasis on the work of Chekhov, Solzhenitsyn, Shalamov); late Soviet fiction probing life in rural Siberia; and contemporary Russian fiction that revisits Russia’s eastern mysticism. Taught by Tim Harte.
Russian 106: Intensive Survival Russian
This course, taught by Irina Walsh, is an intensive "crash" course in Russian for those enrolled in the 360 who have no prior experience studying or speaking Russian (those in the 360 who have studied the Russian language in the past are expected to take a concurrent Russian language course at the College). Intensive Survival Russian, which will be taught in the first half of the semester (prior to our travel to Russia), will entail 5 hrs./week of elementary language instruction in Russian, with special emphasis on speaking skills needed for the trip. The second half of the course will complete first semester of First Year Russian.