Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Josef Korbel School of International Studies

First Advisor

Jonathan Adelman, Ph.D.


Discourse, Gender, Lacan, Masculinity, Performativity, Russia


This dissertation evaluates the construction, negotiation, and contestation of masculine Subjectivity within articulations of Russia's post-Soviet national Idea. As Russia endeavors to define itself after years of turmoil and strife, gender identities have become deeply enmeshed in understandings of quintessential Russianness. From discourses of the state under Vladimir Putin to those of the Russian Orthodox Church, actors with significant social and political power have constructed particular understandings of what it means to be Russian, and in so doing, have delineated the parameters of normal, or natural gender identities and sexualities for men.

Drawing from the ideas of Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, Slavoj Zizek, and others, I analyze the ways in which male corporeality is articulated as an embodiment of the nation, and point to the consequences of articulations that serve to "naturalize" or "normalize" certain masculinities over others. Many of the discourses under consideration have constructed a gendered conceptualization of Russia's national Idea by mythologizing nostalgic signifiers of the past and orienting them toward a future ideal in a way that finalizes the meanings of such signifiers and makes them appear to be eternal and authentically Russian. Combined, such discourses constitute a national Idea that serves to monologize conceptions of masculinity, reducing them to an artificial essentialism. Yet perhaps most importantly, this work demonstrates the constructed and unfinalizable nature of imposed identities--and the ability, through creative discursive mechanisms such as literature and film, to push back against the establishment and resist the centripetal forces of "traditional" modernity.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Arianna L. Nowakowski

File size

230 p.

File format





International relations, Gender studies, Russian history