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Julie Cassiday on Russian Style, or What Twerking Air Cadets and ‘Gay’ Propaganda Tell Us About Putin’s War in Ukraine

Thu, March 2nd, 2023
4:15 pm
- 5:30 pm

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Many social scientists were taken aback by Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine in February of 2022, but those aware of cultural trends in the Russian Federation can discern the connection between Putin’s restyling of Russian gender and sexuality and the war in Ukraine. Since rising to power in 1999, Putin has overhauled Russian citizenship so that young, sexually-available, heterosexual women have become the country’s ideal citizens, and queer men, its scapegoats. This talk links the 2018 viral video made by air cadets in the city of Ulianovsk to Russia’s infamous 2013 ban on “gay propaganda,” arguing that the inherent contradiction in both reveals the roots of Putin’s Ukrainophobia and military aggression.

Julie Cassiday is the Willcox B. and Harriet M. Adsit Professor of Russian at Williams, where she teaches Russian language, literature, and culture, as well as Comparative Literature. Her research focuses on performance in the broadest possible sense in Russian culture. She has written a book on the emergence of the show trial in early Soviet Russia, as well as articles on topics ranging from Stalinist film to the cult of personality around Vladimir Putin. Her latest project is a book titled Russian Style: Performing Gender in Putin’s Russia, which will appear later this year.

This talk is presented as part of the spring 2023 Faculty Lecture Series. The series was founded in 1911 by Catherine Mariotti Pratt, the spouse of a faculty member who wanted to “relieve the tedium of long New England winters with an opportunity to hear Williams professors talk about issues that really mattered to them.” From these humble and lighthearted beginnings, the Faculty Lecture Series has grown to become an important forum for tenured professors to share their latest research with the larger intellectual community of the college.

The Faculty Lecture Series is organized by the faculty members of the Lecture Committee. The aim of the series is to present big ideas beyond disciplinary boundaries.  All lectures will begin at 4:15 p.m.  They are free and open to the public.

The Faculty Lecture Series will be video recorded and posted on Williams YouTube.

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