56080 - Media, Russia and Soviet Cinema

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Alena Shumakova

  • Credits 4

  • SSD M-STO/03

  • Language English

  • Campus of Forli

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Interdisciplinary research and studies on Eastern Europe (cod. 8049)

  • Course Timetable from Apr 12, 2022 to Apr 22, 2022

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Through a comparative approach and the comment on films, Student is expected to achieve a sound knowledge of the documentary and revolutionary movies in order to understand vividly what has been the image of the Masses, of the Enemies, of propaganda, and the sense of violence on the screen. Students will also learn elements of the theory and practice of Montage, Camera-work and other techniques.

Course contents

This course sets the Soviet heritage and contemporary Russian cinema into the social, cultural and political context. Informed by contemporary and present day debates over the social and cultural significance of cinema and its genres, the course will draw on a range of theoretical and comparative material in order to stimulate engaging and accessible readings accounting for both the appeal of, and the inherent potential for subversion within, films produced by the Soviet and Post-Soviet culture industry. During classes, students are expected to acquire knowledge about the Russian cinema’s main development trends. This course approaches the study of the influences of politics on cinema during the Soviet period and the following history re-writing and the censorship control will be examined. In order to better understand contemporaneity some lessons will be devoted to the study of the Russian major directors’ works. The course will discuss all these matters by focussing on specific case-studies and on the specific effects and roles of media discourses and genres (war movies, biopics, comedies), broaching themes and results of research from a whole range of disciplines (semiotics, sociology of communication, cultural studies and critical theory, international relations). In the end, the course will focus on the overview of the Russian film industry from the early 1990s to the present, providing essential information on attendance figures, production politics and costs, as well as certain critical films and events. After this course the student will have a basic knowledge of the Soviet Cinematography and the problems assuming. The aim of the lessons is to supply the student the most important information to provide an "entry-point" to the appreciation of the film-cult, to enrich the historical knowledge and to offer the opportunities for the research paper in consideration of student’s personal aspirations The lessons will be divided into thematic blocks which will include the following themes:

Sergej Eizenstejn and The Foundation Mith.

Pursuit of Happyness and the Entertainment genre in Soviet Cinema.

The War in Soviet/Russian Cinema.

Nikita Mikhalkov: The Eastern, the lost imperial status of Russia and Soviet identity.

Alexander Sokurov: the Russia’s key arthouse director

Alexey Balabanov: the representation of a new national hero

Andrey Zviaghitsev and others: Russian film industry today


Beumers, B. (1999), Russia on Reels: The Russian Idea in Post-Soviet Cinema, I.B.Tauris

Lawton, A. (1992), The Red Screen: Politics, Society, Art in Soviet Cinema, Routledge

Ewa Thomson, ‘Discourse, Empire and Memory in Postcommunist Russia', New Zealand Slavonic Journal, vol. 37 (2003), 155-64 (p. 164).

David Gillespie, « Defence of the Realm: The ‘New' Russian Patriotism on Screen », The Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies [Online] , Issue 3 | 2005 , Online since 03 October 2005, connection on June, 22, 2011. URL : http://pipss.revues.org/index369.html

H.Goshilo, Casting and Recasting the Caucasian Captive, in Pushkin in the 20th Century, eds. Joe Andrew & Robert Reid (2002)

Condee, N. (1995), Soviet Hieroglyphics. Visual culture in Late Twentieth-Century Russia, Indiana Press

Beumers, B. (2007), The Cinema of Russia &The Former Soviet Union, Wallflower Press


K. Thussu and D. Freedman (eds.), War and the Media, London, Sage, 2003 (selected chapters).

Teaching methods

The course will be arranged into the theoretical part and the screenings of selected parts of films. 5 films will be assigned as independent but compulsory viewing (outside of class) and several extracts will be screened in class. During the lesson further suggestion for essential reading will be fixed according to the student's personal aims.

Assessment methods

Students are expected to participate in class discussions and write a final research paper on a topic related to the course using a chosen theory/methodology discussed in class (50 % of the grade). The lecturer will open each class with a presentation of the main questions for each set of topics, likely in addition to summarizing the previous session.

Students must fulfill the following requirements:

Final Essay (8-10 pages, double-spaced, 3000-3500 words

The outcome of the module will be averaged to that of the other module composing the integrated course in order to determine the final grade.

Teaching tools

Teaching tools used in the course include: power-point; in-class viewing of extracts of documentary and narrative films; handouts and readings provided both online and in-class;

Grading system

Participation: 50%, Reflection papers: 50%

Final exam

The students will be asked to submit a paper on a specific case study.

Office hours

See the website of Alena Shumakova