In June 2008 I will graduate from Knox College with a BA in Creative Writing and Russian. I look forward to furthering my knowledge in both fields during the 2008-2009 academic year while working on a collection of short stories, in English, that will attempt to erode Cold-War-era stereotypes.
I first began to really consider these stereotypes during my 2007 semester studying abroad in Moscow. I was often asked what Americans thought about Russians. After much thought, I concluded that most Americans think Russian men are wool coats, unsmiling faces, vodka-reddened cheeks, and iconic fur hats playing chess all the bleak years of their life. The women are stoic supermodels, ice skaters, and gymnasts who one day put on a head scarf, becoming fat and old. And, of course, everyone is either KGB or Mafia. That was not the Russia I encountered – initially in literature, and then in person.
In my writing, I will explore the fabric of daily life in Moscow, looking particularly at the interactions between three segments of the society: those who remember Stalinist times; their children who grew up under Brezhnev; and their grandchildren who never knew a Soviet Union. I hope the complexity of these multigenerational relationships will undermine the simplicity of cultural stereotypes.
For the duration of the project I will be affiliated with Russian State University for Humanities. Throughout the year I look forward to pursuing my interest in photography, going to theaters and galleries, visiting with friends, and improving my craft.