I graduated with honors from Vassar College in May 2009 with a degree in “Modern Literatures” awarded by the Independent Program. An important facet of this Independent Program was the creation of an alternative academic practice. “Modern Literatures”—which employed literary, philosophical, and sociological analysis to compare the literatures of the Russian, German, and English speaking worlds--was predicated on the philosophy that all art (writing, music, visual art, drama, dance, etc.) is engaged in illuminating certain structures and truths about the world. Throughout, I was especially committed to examining how these arts foreground the intersections of race, religion, sexuality, and class within society.
My Fulbright Research Project is entitled “Arts in Public, Publics in Art: Representing Moscow,” and will study the role of the arts (meaning literature, visual art, theater, film, architecture, etc.) in contemporary Russian society. Essentially, this project will be a case study in the kind of artistic philosophy I developed with the study of “Modern Literatures.” I believe that the arts (especially in independent, non-corporate, art communities) should be used to critique and examine contemporary social reality. I want to see if and how this is playing out in one of the most rapidly changing cities of the modern world: Moscow. Practically, I’ll be enrolled part time in the Russian State University for the Humanities (RGGU), where I will study with various faculty who specialize in contemporary arts criticism. I’ll spend the rest of my time researching, attending, and documenting online various art “happenings” in the city.