Departments and Programs

Short Courses

Short Courses

Fall 2011

Remembering Communism: The Poetics and Politics of Nostalgia

This lecture and film series marks the twentieth anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The screenings include Goodbye Lenin! and My Perestroika, two poignant films that address the complexity of the constantly shifting political landscapes of postsocialist countries and the difficulty of both confronting the past and understanding the present. The speakers include three prominent writers and artists - Dubravka Ugrešić, Susanne Schädlich, and Grisha Bruskin - all of whom present unique perspectives on individual and collective memory, and discuss how perceptions of the past affect and shape the modern world.

Remembering Communism: The Poetics and Politics of Nostalgia

Fall 2010

Contraband Canvases: How Modern Soviet Art Found a Home in the Desert
The course centers on a screening of The Desert of Forbidden Art (2010), directed by Tchavdar Georgiev and Amanda Pope. This award-winning 2010 documentary highlights the life and achievements of Igor Savitsky (1915-1984), who rescued 44,000 works of unsanctioned Soviet art and founded a museum to display them. Today, the Nukus Art Museum, located in Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan, holds the second largest collection of Soviet avant-garde art in the world. This collection, suppressed during Stalinism and the following decades, offers fresh perspectives on the art and history of the USSR. The Oberlin College Screening presents a rare opportunity to see the remarkable story of the man and the museum he created and to meet to film's directors Amanda Pope and Tchavdar Georglev.

The course is a collaborative effort of OCREECAS and the Allen Memorial Art Museum. It focuses on the life and achievements of Igor Savitsky (1915-1984), who rescued 44,000 works of unsanctioned Soviet art and founded a museum to house it far from the eyes of the Kremlin. The mini-course featurs lectures on the history, politics, and culture of the area. Organized by Associate Professor Arlene Forman and Director of Sponsored Programs Pam Snyder. 1 credit hour.

Desert of Forbidden Art

Fall 2009

Transition to Democracy in Serbia: The Alternative Films of Goran Radovanović

This module class explores the transition to democracy in Serbia from the fall of the Milošević regime to the present through a combination of documentary and feature films. Topics include: historical background, non-violent student movement resistance to dictatorship, rural elections, the dramatic social changes in the transition to democracy and a market economy. The instructor is a talented film maker from Serbia whose first feature film was premiered at this year's Montreal Film Festival. 1 credit hour.

Transition to Democracy in Serbis: The Alternative Films of Goran Radovanović

Spring 2008

The Russian/Jewish Dilemma: A Century of Inclusion and Exile

OCREECAS presents a series of guest lectures on topics spanning late 19th-20th centuries, including Jewish organizations in pre-revolutionary Russia, the Jewish Autonomous Region of Birobidzhan, Stalin's antireligion campaign and its effects on Judaism, and Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union in the 1970s. Students will complete individual research on topics presented in guest lectures. First module; Instructor: Amanda Blasko (Faculty in Residence). 1 credit hour.

Fall 2007

A Georgian Feast: Food and Song in Georgian Culture

This course will introduce students to Georgian culture through the culinary history, film, song and dance of the region. Meets Nov. 2-Nov. 11. Guest lecturers will include Darra Goldstein, Dodona Kiziria, Oberlin alum Avery Book and members of the Zedashe Ensemble. Lecturers will also offer a workshop in their field for hands-on experience. Independent research will allow students to delve more deeply into one or more of these aspects of Georgian culture. First module; Instructor Amanda Blasko (Faculty in Residence). 1 credit hour.

Spring 2007

Emerging Nations: Identity and Culture in Today's Central Europe

Focus on the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This course begins with an overview of the region and considers interactions of society, language, and culture in these small European nations "whose existence," as milan Kundera has explained, "may be put in question at any moment." The second half of the course examines current developments in the arts and culture of the newest of these nations, the Slovak Republic. Guest lecturers from Central Europe and North American specialists will examine the challenges the region currently faces. Main instructor: Charles Sabatos, OKUM Fellow in Comparative Literature. 1 credit hour.

Spring 2006

Oil on Troubled Waters: A New Great Game?

Central Asia and Caucasia have long been the focus of contending empires and states. Can the Central Asian states cooperate to prevent resource conflicts over water? Can oil and water mix? Students will gain a geographical knowledge of the region and a basic understanding of the environmental and social problems facing these new states, connecting those to the specific problems facing Cantral Asia and the Caucasus with the larger global issues of non-renewable resource depletion. Instructor: Stephen Jones, Mount Holyoke College. 1 credit hour.

Fall 2005

Russia: An Unorthodox Approach, Folk Beliefs Then and Now

What pagan gods were worshipped among the east Slavs before the spread of Orthodoxy? What remains of pagan customs and traditions in modern Russian life? Through an interdisciplinary appraoch to folklore and folk beliefs, this course will survey topics including the following: pre-Christian deities and mythical beings; medieval Russian literature; traveling minstrels and the fairy tale tradition; Siberian shamanism; contemporary performance of folk music and dance; the rise of a neo-pagan movement in Russia. Main instructor: Amanda Blasko, Faculty in Residence. Guest lecturers include Linda Ivanits (University of Pennsylvania), Francis Butler (University of Illinois), Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer (Georgetown University), Laura Olson (University of Colorado), and Anatol Shmelev (Standford University). 2 credit hours.

Spring 2005

Comparative Mafia: The Political Economy and Sociology of Protection-Producing Enterprises

Topics include: coercion and political power; the neo-institutional approach to markets and government; complicated state formation and its consequences; the mafia as an economic enterprise; the mafia ("La Cosa Nostra") and gangsters in the USA in 1920-30s and after; the Soviet-time shadow economy and organized crime; Russian market reforms after 1987 and the emergence of private entrepreneurs; violent entrepreneurship in Russia in the 1990s; the covert fragmentation of the Russian state; the strengthening of the Russian state and the decline of violent entrepreneurs. Instructor: Vadim Volkov, European University, St. Petersburg, Russia. 1-2 hours, variable credit.

Fall 2004

Putin's Russia

Vladimir Putin has obviously transformed Russian society and its political institutions. What is the state of Russia now and where might it be going? How has Russia changed under Putin? How has Putin changed Russia? How has terrorism changed Russia? And how has Putin changed relations with the US, the West and the CIS? Topics include: Putin (his background and ambitions); institutions under Putin; the media under Putin; Putin and the world; and Russian and terrorism. Instructor: Beth Knobel, CBS News Moscow Bureau Chief. 1 credit hour. 

Spring 2004

Soviet Cultural Globalization

The communist project in Eastern Europe has been the largest deliberately designed experiment in globalization in modern history. A major inquiry on modern and contemporary Eastern Europe provides a welcome contrast and comparative background for an improved understanding of modern globalization processes. Oberlin faculty and distinguished lecturers from North America and Europe address Soviet cultural globalization from a variety of disciplines and perspectives to provide a historial context for the globalization process and its relevance to the phenomenon as it is understood today. Instructors: Invited lecturers from Trondheim University, University of Sheffield, Ohio State University, Universith of Miami, University of Akron, and the Oberlin REES Faculty. 1 credit hour.

Spring 2004

Postcommunism as a Cultural Problem: Russia in the 1990s

The course explores symbolic mechanisms and daily practices around which new post-Soviet identities are being built in contemporary Russia. By looking closely at such diverse fields as 'consumption,' 'family,' 'crime,' 'economy,' 'mass culture,' etc., we will try to understand the specificity of the post-Soviet experience and re-examine the existing anthropological literature on transitional and liminal societies (A. van Gennep, V. Turner, K. Verdery), cultural production (P. Bourdieu, M. Ivy), crime (J. Segal), and political economy (C. Humphrey, M. Burawoy, D. Miller). Instructor: Serguei Oushakine, Barnaul State University, Russia; Columbia University. 2 credit hours.

Fall 2002

Russia & the Geopolotics of Contemporary Central Asia

A series of lectures by war correspondent and author Anatol Lieven, including "Strategies and Lunacies in the War against Terrorism," "Russia as a Land Empire," "Fantasy and Reality in Afghanistan," "Russia in Asia after the Fall of the Soviet Union," and an informal brown-bag lunch lecture "Chechnya as a Post-Colonial War." Instructor: Anatol Lieven, Carnegie Endownment for International Peace. 1 credit hour.

Spring 2002

The Fabrics of Central Asian Cultures

OCREECAS sponsors this short course in conjunction with the Allen Memorial Art Museum's exhibition Woven Treasures: Tribal Textiles from Western and Central Asia. Visiting scholars from major institutions lecture on the anthropology, politics, history, and art of Central Asia. The course also includes the screening of Beshkempir the Adopted Son (1998), a film by Kyrgyz director Aktan Abdykalykov, and a talk by Wes Steel (OC '99), a Russian Language and Literature major sho returns to campus to share his experiences of two years in Kyrgyzstan with the Peace Corps. Instructors: Uli Schamiloglu, University of Wisconsin; Jane Sharp, Rutgers University. 1 credit hour.

Spring 2001

Sex (Eastern Europe), Lies (History), Videotape (Film)

Croatian Film director Rajko Grlić offers a course in which he shares two of his films and lectures on post-Communist changes in the art world of the former Yugoslavia. The course features three film screenings and three lectures. To be shown are the feature films In the Jaws of Life and Pretty Village--Pretty Flame, and the documentary Croatia 2000--A Winter to Remember. Instructor: Rajko Grlić, Croatia. 1 credit hour.



Artist Residencies


Spring 2012

Visiting artists: The Jerry Grcevich Tamburitza Orchestra (Pittsburgh, PA). Tambura virtuoso Jerry Grcevich's artist residency at Oberlin included a public lecture/demonstration in the Conservatory, a visit to Visiting Assistant Professor Marko Dumančić's class Genocide in Modern Eurasia, and an evening concert with his orchestra for dancing and listening in the 'Sco.


Fall 2010

Visiting artists: Walt Mahovlich and Turli Tava (Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Cleveland, OH). Clarinetist/ethnographer Walt Mahovlich's artist residency at Oberlin included a public lecture/demonstration in Russian House, a class workshop with the Oberlin Conservatory's Balkan Ensemble, and an evening with Turli Tava for dancing and listening in the Conservatory.


Spring 2003

Visiting artists: Talisman/Kolpakov Trios (Moscow and US). The one-week residency included three concerts, one lecture-demo, and two master classes for students in the Conservatory.