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Culture Russia and Eurasia


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.


How can Alexander Pushkin’s narrative poem The Bronze Horseman help us understand the controversies over megalomaniac development projects in St. Petersburg? What tactics do individual interest groups employ to contest the Kremlin’s vision of the Soviet past as a time of great heroics? What is the mutual perception of centre and periphery in such an enormous country, for example, of European Russians and the indigenous peoples of Siberia? These and similar questions will be explored on the basis of a wide variety of materials ranging from poetry and film to the glossy brochures of Russian gas giant Gazprom and the pseudo-authentic souvenirs of ethnic and linguistic minorities. Equipped with the tools of cultural semiotics, post-colonialism and sociolinguistics, the student will learn more about the surprising cultural and ethnic diversity of post-Soviet Russia, as well as about the tensions to which this diversity sometimes gives rise.

Course objectives

At the end of the course students will be able to analyze and question received notions on the Russian “national character” as they are perpetuated in literature, non-fiction and the visual arts. They will be able to recognize the agency of (social, linguistic) minorities and individuals even in an oppressive environment; they will also gain a better understanding of the continuities and discontinuities of Soviet and post-Soviet culture. In terms of academic skills, they will learn to assess the quality of their sources (internet) and appreciate the “embeddedness” of any information they find. Finally, they will improve their reading knowledge of Russian.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

Lecture and tutorials

Attending lectures and tutorials is compulsory. If you are not able to attend a lecture or tutorial, please inform the tutor of the course. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the final exam or essay.

Assessment method

Tutorials and exam 70%, Essay 30%.


Blackboard will be used. Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

See detailed course schedule. Literature will be made available on Blackboard.

  • Vladimir Sorokin, Day of the Oprichnik


Students are requested to register through uSis, the registration system of Leiden University for this course. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.