Thursday, February 4, 2010

Russia by Intravenous Drip

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My readership is diverse, but the Soviet Roulette multitudes will agree on two things: first, that the Russian Debutante’s Handbook was right, there is no other way to become cultured other than reading Turgenev’s A Sportsman’s Sketches; and second, life would be much better if everyone were attached to Russian and Soviet history by intravenous drip. Well, this blogger has recently discovered podcasts. The recognition should have come in 2001, or whenever this phenomenon emerged. But I’m that rare beast, a backward-looking, enthusiast of technology.

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Just what is available to the Russophile who’d like to be listening to podcasts at every hour of every day? ITunes University offers quite a few avenues for exploration. For instance, Brown University has put recorded an excellent series on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Other universities have put up standard lectures on Russia, Eastern Europe, or communism in general in general Western Europe survey courses, and one generous has professor put an entire course on the Russian Revolution into podcast form.

ITunes University is also the best route to lectures on contemporary Russia and the other post-Soviet states. These mainly focus on the economic issues and international relations. I’ve also found plenty of relevant if isolated material on some of the more generic, cultural and historical podcasts. Of course, downloadable books on CD are another way to become permanently tethered to Russia. I’ve only just begun to explore the CPS and college library for relevant titles of books that I can download to my IPOD. Thus far, I’m reading Absurdistan and have found a few titles by Tolstoy. I expect to find others.

What Russian-themed podcasts or downloadable books does the reader suggest? Speak up: I can’t hear you.

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