Literatures of Eurasia

Autumn 2016-2017

28919 / 38919

Leah Feldman

This course explores the construction of a Eurasian ideology based on the contested geopolitical and poetic imaginary of the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Attending to the conceptions of race and ethnicity that this system produced, the course draws connections between a Eurasianist ideology and disciplinary work in linguistics, geography and biology. Tracing its historical break from imperial Russia after the 1917 revolution and a cultural rupture with a notion of European modernity, we will explore Eurasianism’s ties with orientalist discourses developed during the nineteenth century such as Pan-Slavism, Slavophilism, and Pan-Turkism.   In this course we will examine a diverse archive that includes a selection of primary orientalist ethnological sources, Russian and Turkic literary works and film, as well as contemporary theoretical approaches to empire in the region (particularly centered around the institution of Russian/Soviet Orientalism). Our primary focus will be the development and institutionalization of these concepts in the Soviet metropole and on the periphery during amidst periods of Soviet expansion beginning with a brief discussion of Russian imperial expansion during the nineteenth century, proceeding with the period of Soviet expansion during the 1920s, and ending with a look to transnational connections with the non-aligned movement between the 1950s-1970s. Breaking from dominant theories of the formation of the multinational Soviet empire, which focus on the western republics, this course explores the role of the Caucasus and Central Asia, Muslim cultural identity, and Soviet international diplomacy on the construction of Eurasianism. Undergraduate: (B, G, H)