805 Gordon Street
BC V8W 1Z6
How the image of Russian President Vladimir Putin permeates contemporary American material, political, and digital culture
Dr. Alison Rowley, Professor in the Department of History at Concordia University, will be here in Victoria to speak about her latest book Putin Kitsch in America, which examines the outsized influence that Vladimir Putin, both the man and the myth, have had on US political discourse in the last decade. Starting with the 2008 US election, Dr. Rowley demonstrates how Putin’s frontier masculinity – best illustrated by the ubiquitous shirtless picture – has served as an important foil for US political figures, particularly Barack Obama and Donald Trump. In her talk, Dr. Rowley will examine various kitsch mediums, from seemingly innocuous Putin memorabilia to Putin’s digital presence to demonstrate how the Russian leader’s image as a virile strongman, is designed to show US politicians as relative weaklings. The number of such references skyrocketed during the 2016 US presidential election campaign, and turning a critical eye to Putin kitsch suggests that the phenomenon will continue when Americans return to the polls later this year.
Dr. Rowley is the author of Open Letters: Russian Popular Culture and the Picture Postcard and more recently, Putin Kitsch in America. She is presently serving her second term as President of the Canadian Association of Slavists, and co-chairing the organizing committee for the next world congress of the International Council for Central and East European Studies, which will be held in Montreal in August 2020. When she has a spare moment, she is also working on her next book, Imagining Russia in America: Depicting the Other – from the Tsar to the Soviets.