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Not-Russians on TV

Class, Comedy, and the Peculiarities of East European Otherness on 2 Broke Girls

Erica L. Fraser

Abstract

This article discusses portrayals of a Ukrainian and a Polish character on the US sitcom 2 Broke Girls (2011–2017). The pilot episode reveals that the showrunners used stereotypes of Russian characters to establish different national origins for Oleg and Sophie. The show perpetuates offensive stereotypes of Slavic and postsocialist characters to elide differences from Russians but with notable distinctions—stemming from Oleg and Sophie's economic backgrounds in the struggling postsocialist economies of the 1990s. American television has produced many comedic characters from the European margins (Greek, Czech, Ukrainian, Polish, Latvian, or from invented but East European-coded lands) who were understood as chaotic but loveable. Crucially, however, they were not Russian. From the late Cold War through the 2010s, Russianness onscreen seems to consistently signal dishonesty, danger, or hopelessness for Western audiences. This suggests that while stereotypes persist, in comedy, at least, showrunners use East Europeans to support, not threaten, American characters, further othering Russianness.

Open access

The Romanovs on Contemporary American TV

Nostalgia for White Imperialism

Katharina Wiedlack

Abstract

This article analyzes the Netflix six-part docudrama The Last Czars as well as the Amazon Prime anthology drama The Romanoffs for its representations of Russian imperial history and its heritage. Using an intersectional lens, it utilizes a close watching of the TV shows to identify a nostalgia for Russia's imperial legacy as core element of both series. Embedding the findings within popular culture, the analysis further shows that the nostalgic depiction of the last Russian imperial family and the mourning of their loss has a century-long history within American media. Comparing these depictions further to recent commemorations of the last Romanovs through the exhibitions Russia My History points to the Western complicity in Russian imperialist and colonial ideology through the recent shows in liberal American media.

Open access

“God's Mighty Arm Makes the French Victorious”

The French Revolutionary Deists Who Believed in Miracles

Joseph Waligore

Abstract

The deists have commonly been characterized as irreligious thinkers who believed in a distant and inactive deity. This characterization of deism is undermined by the large number of French Revolutionary deists who believed that God worked miracles. Some French Revolutionary deists claimed that God continually led the French armies to victory, while others said that God worked a single miracle. After eliminating the French Revolutionaries who were following the party line when Maximilien Robespierre was in power, there were 72 French Revolutionary deists who believed God worked miracles to help the French Revolution. The French Revolutionary deists shared a common theology with the earlier deists, and many earlier deists also believed that God worked miracles. The Enlightenment deists were much more religious than commonly thought.

Open access

Sixteen “Creeds” at the Fin de Siècle

Transitioning to New Pedagogical Directions

Rosa Bruno-Jofré and Gonzalo Jover

Abstract

This article examines the pedagogic creeds published in New York and Chicago during 1896 and 1897 in The School Journal. The configuration of ideas framing the creeds reveals the dynamics of modernities and transatlantic crossings, mainly the ideas of Georg W. F. Hegel, Herbert Spencer, Friedrich Froebel, Johann Friedrich Herbart, and Wilhelm Wundt and their contextual adaptation. The creeds are analyzed at the interplay of evolutionism and its versions, including Lamarckianism, developments in psychology, the intersection of Protestantism, and the gendered and racial ordering of society. The child study movement and theories of recapitulation also had a presence. The creeds provide a picture of the ideas at the fin de siècle. They were aimed at reform with various agendas that included social reconstruction with a modernist civilizing agenda, segregationism, and residential/boarding schools for Indigenous children. John Dewey's more well-known and influential creed brought its own unique avenues through his embracement of pragmatism.

Open access

Voices that Matter?

Methods for Historians Attending to the Voices of the Past

Josephine Hoegaerts

Abstract

How do we thoroughly historicize the voice, or integrate it into our historical research, and how do we account for the mundane daily practices of voice … the constant talking, humming, murmuring, whispering, and mumbling that went on offstage, in living rooms, debating clubs, business meetings, and on the streets? Work across the humanities has provided us with approaches to deal with aspects of voices, vocality, and their sounds. This article considers how we can mobilize and adapt such interdisciplinary methods for the study of history. It charts out a practical approach to attend to the history of voices—including unmusical ones—before recording, drawing on insights from the fields of sound studies, musicology, and performativity. It suggests ways to “listen anew” to familiar sources as well as less conventional source material. And it insists on a combination of analytical approaches focusing on vocabulary, bodily practice, and the questionable particularity of sound.