Disability in Russian Film
What is "disability"? What is "health"? What is "normal"? What is a "body"? The course will first examine how these questions have historically been answered in American culture. We will discuss and critique Disability Theory, the Disability Rights Movement and the representation of the disabled. Armed with these "Western" concepts and insights, we then turn our attention to Russia and its cultural productions involving disability (i.e., works about the disabled or made by disabled artists), focusing on 19th and 20th century literature/art. Among our topics: the grotesque, the "holy fool", the "cult of suffering." What role have paganism, Orthodox Christianity, nationalism, communism and World War II played in Russia's answers to our initial questions? We conclude with a consideration of the disabled in late/post-Soviet Russia - a (still-ongoing) historical moment in which discourses of disability have reached unprecedented levels - and ponder the future of disability rights in Russia. In addition to a course packet and at least three films, we will read the following: Omon Ra by Victor Pelevin, Skunk by Pyotr Aleshkovsky and School for Fools by Sasha Sokolov.