VI Fulbright Summer School in the Humanities
June 1-8, 2003

Reading Everyday Life in American and in Russian: Semiotics of Culture and Intercultural Communication

Fulbright Summer School in the Humanities
is held annually since 1997 under the aegis of the Fulbright Program in Russia, Moscow University and the Russian Association for American Studies in partnership with a number of American universities (particularly, SUNY).

Each June the Summer School brings together a group of 25-30 interested graduate students and professors from all over Russia (and some of the CIS countries) for a session devoted to subjects such as: “Text as Culture, Culture as Text” (1997), "America as Vision and Spectacle" (1998), "The Imagined Past of America: History as a Cultural Construct" (1999), "Nation as Narration: American and Russian Experience" (2001), "Popular Literature: American and Russian Experience in Cultural Mythmaking" (2002).

The goals of the Summer School are
 - to help younger Russian and American academics explore new fields of research and pedagogy in an international/comparative perspective;
 - to help cultivate American culture studies in the Russian academy providing for increased flexibility and interdisciplinary awareness, the "cutting edge" methodology, the livelier and more efficient intellectual exchange.

The School nurtures the spirit of free debate, high professionalism and critical reflection. It also helps develop the necessary bi-lingual and bi-cultural communication skills among Russian and American students/scholars providing impetus for innovative research and relevant publications.

The Summer School-2003 (June 1-8) will be devoted to “Reading Everyday Life in American and in Russian: Semiotics of Culture and Intercultural Communication”.

In the course of the week-long series of lectures, seminars and debates led by American and Russian scholars (historians, sociologists, cultural anthropologists, specialists in literary and art history) we shall explore the contemporary profile of “everyday life studies” in the US and in Russia - a relatively new, challenging and sensitive field of interdisciplinary discussion and international cooperation .

“Everyday life” is readily available for observation yet least readable as a text by both “insiders” and “outsiders”. As an idea and a specific value it is closely related to the process of social modernization. Its semantic and symbolic potential in the Russian and the American cultural contexts we propose to discuss through contrast and analogy.

With this in view we would want to look at some of the things (instances of material culture) that “made” modern America and modern Russia, some social rituals, bodily practices, authoritative fictions, popular fads and mass-produced media discourses.

The likely areas of concentration may be “sorted out” (in a preliminary way) by period:
 - 1920-30s. Experimental construction of the new forms of everyday life in Russia: “Americanism”, “Fordism” vs. traditional (folk or aristocratic) heritage and/or revolutionary denial of the quotidian;
 - 1930-50s. Celebration and sacralization of everyday life: Hollywood      “norm” as a common person's wish fulfillment, relevant stereotypes in the Soviet popular culture and entertainment;
 - 1960-70s. Building a counter-image: everyday life as province of freedom, privacy, eccentricity, individual self-expression vs. social conformism, power hierarchy, anonymity, convention;
 - 1970-90s. Consuming America/consuming Russia. Images of everyday life as promoted by and shopped for through the American and Russian media today (TV, advertising, popular press).

The site of the Summer School-2003 will be the “Yasnaya Polyana” conference center (located on the inviting grounds of Leo Tolstoy museum-estate near Tula - one of the oldest Russian towns 200 km from Moscow).

Organizing Committee:

Director of the Summer School:
Tatiana Venediktova (

Tatiana Borovinskaya (              
Maria Rarenko (