America through Russian Eyes – Images of America in Soviet and Russian Cinema

This five-session* course will examine the image of America and Americans, as well as other foreigners, in Soviet and contemporary Russian cinema. We will study films from four key periods of Russian history.  1. The Bolshevik 1920s: "The Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in the Land of the Bolsheviks" (1924), directed by Lev Kuleshov;  2. The Stalin era: "Meeting on the Elbe" (1949), directed by Grigory Alexandrov;  3. The post-Stalin Thaw and Détente: "Autumn Marathon" (1979), directed by Georgii Daneliia;  4. The post-Soviet/Putin era: "Brother 2" (2000), directed by Alexei Balabanov.

Focusing on the political, historical and cultural contexts in which these films were produced, we will explore what they tell us about how Soviets and contemporary Russians have viewed the United States, as well as their own country. What do Americans look like in their eyes, and how do they see themselves? Class participants will be asked to watch the films before each session and then we will discuss them during class. Historical and other background materials will be provided in advance of each discussion.

*The course will consist of five online class discussion sessions on Tuesdays, 10 AM to noon, February 7 through March 7.   Two additional online screening sessions will be held for the the film "Meeting on the Elbe" as this film in not available for streaming at home.  It will be shown on Thursday, February 16 at 1 PM and again on Monday, February 20th at 10 AM. 

Class Recordings:

Class 1 - Feb. 7, 2023

Class 2 - Feb 14, 2023 (Recording begins after breakout discussion sessions.)

Class 3 - Feb. 21, 2023 (Recording begins after breakout discussion sessions.)

Class 4 - Feb. 28, 2023  (Recording begins after breakout discussion sessions.)

Class 5 - March 7, 2023  (Recording begins after breakout discussion sessions.)

Venue: online
Meets on: Tuesdays 10:00 am to noon
Starting: 2/7/2023
Sessions: 7
Class Size: 25
Teaching Style: Lecture and discussion
Weekly Preparation: 2 - 3 hours
Group Leader Biography:

Cathy Mannick is an angel investor and former international lawyer with 20 years of experience representing US businesses in the former Soviet Union. She is a trustee of the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Massachusetts, and a board member of the Rostropovich-Vishnevskaya Foundation in Washington, D.C. Cathy earned her undergraduate degree in Russian Studies from Yale University and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She also earned an M.A. in history from Harvard where she was a tutor in the History and Literature Department, focusing on early 20th century Imperial Russian and Soviet history.