TTh4 - Prof. Khazanov

Eternal life, eternal peace, new humans, and of course, travel through the dead of space to find the Other(s)– these dreams, and their dystopian opposites, are familiar in science fiction across the world. In the Soviet Union, especially in the beginning of the Soviet experiment, they acquired new weight, as high Communist Party figures proclaimed these objects of age-old human fantasy as goals that the “scientific socialist” state would actively pursue. What happens to the genre of scientific utopia when it encounters some of its most willing adepts among the highest echelons of power—or when power starts to realize its failures (as in the post-Stalin decades) or decomposes entirely (as in the post-Soviet era)? What happens to sci-fi when its makers and readers try to align their perspective with socialism— or when they intentionally try to undermine it? Finally, how does the Soviet legacy continue to inform Russian sci-fi today, and what does post-Soviet sci-fi retroactively say about the meaning of the terminated socialist experiment? To get at these questions, our course will proceed in thematic modules, following several arcs of development of key sci-fi tropes in the hands of influential Soviet and post-Soviet Russian creators, including writers like Alexander Bogdanov, Evgeny Zamyatin, Mikhail Bulgakov, the Strugatsky brothers and Tatiana Tolstaya, as well as filmmakers like Andrei Tarkovsky, Georgy Daneliya and Timur Bekmambetov, among others.

No prerequisites; all readings and discussions in English. Fulfills Core requirement AHo.

cross-listed with Comparative Literature