Date of Award

5-22-2016

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department

American Studies

First Advisor

Cotten Seiler

Language

English

Abstract

This paper explores the cultural construction – or “imagination” – of Russian character in the United States through an investigation of popular American literature, films, TV shows, photographs, magazine articles, speeches, editorial cartoons, and Internet memes. The author identifies three key eras of imagination: 1946-1990, 1990-2001, and 2007-present, and examines the popular (re)construction of Russia and Russians in each period through the lens of the predominant US foreign policy text. The paper finds that throughout all three eras, American imagination has balanced conflicting representations of Russia and Russians as inherently threatening and inferior.

The author also highlights how this contradictory imagination of Russia encourages Americans to self-identify as benevolent and superior, which has historically caused them to perceive Russia as the enemy of the US. The paper concludes that imagination of Russia and Russians has been and continues to be essential to the formulation of American identity and US foreign policy objectives.

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