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Catalog Archive / Fall 2023

Russian Style
Performing Gender, Power, and Putinism

Pushkin House Book Prize Finalist

“A brilliant, entertaining work of scholarship that sheds light on some of the most important phenomena in contemporary Russian politics and mass culture. Using style as her central concept, Cassiday brings together many seemingly disparate examples from mass media, pop culture, and politics in a way that is truly enlightening.”
—Eliot Borenstein, New York University

The politics of gender and sexuality in Russian popular culture

In the two decades after the turn of the millennium, Vladimir Putin’s control over Russian politics and society grew at a steady pace. As the West liberalized its stance on sexuality and gender, Putin’s Russia moved in the opposite direction, remolding the performance of Russian citizenship according to a neoconservative agenda characterized by increasingly exaggerated gender roles. By connecting gendered and sexualized citizenship to developments in Russian popular culture, Julie A. Cassiday argues that heteronormativity and homophobia became a kind of politicized style under Putin’s leadership.

However, while the multiple modes of gender performativity generated in Russian popular culture between 2000 and 2010 supported Putin’s neoconservative agenda, they also helped citizens resist and protest the state’s mandate of heteronormativity. Examining everything from memes to the Eurovision Song Contest and self-help literature, Cassiday untangles the discourse of gender to argue that drag, or travesti, became the performative trope par excellence in Putin’s Russia. Provocatively, Cassiday further argues that the exaggerated expressions of gender demanded by Putin’s regime are best understood as a form of cisgender drag. This smart and lively study provides critical, nuanced analysis of the relationship between popular culture and politics in Russia during Putin’s first two decades in power.


Julie Cassiday. Julie A. Cassiday is the Willcox B. and Harriet M. Adsit Professor of Russian at Williams College. She is the author of The Enemy on Trial: Early Soviet Courts on Stage and Screen and the coeditor of Russian Performances: Word, Object, Action.




“Well conceived, researched, and executed, Russian Style makes an invaluable contribution to the field and to broader discussions of gender, sexuality, and the body in contemporary popular culture. Bringing to the forefront questions of citizenship and national identity, Cassiday thinks through the changes (political, ideological, sexual) that have taken place over the past two decades in Putin’s Russia.”
—Lilya Kaganovsky, UCLA

“Incisive. . . . What Cassiday proposes is nothing less than a new political and cultural theory that shows how a militaristic ideology is created through a participatory internet culture, winking irony and an emphasis on entertainment and performance. . . . Russian Style is an important book.”
The Times Literary Supplement



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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations

Chapter 1. A Genealogy of Post-Soviet Pop Performativity
Chapter 2. The Soviet Legacy of Traumatized Bodies
Chapter 3. Travesti and the Post-Soviet Drag Queen
Chapter 4. Queer Performativity in Putin’s Russia
Chapter 5. Post-Soviet Post-Feminism



Of Related Interest


Russian Performances
Word, Object, Action
Edited by Julie A. Buckler, Julie A. Cassiday, and Boris Wolfson

Faster, Higher, Stronger, Comrades!: Cover art of a painting of men running across a track, with a woman wearing a white dress watching from the side. Above and below the painting are orange blocks, in which the title text is proclaimed in contrasting white font.

Faster, Higher, Stronger, Comrades!
Sports, Art, and Ideology in Late Russian and Early Soviet Culture
Tim Harte

Russian Style: a drag queen wearing a top make of gemstones is mirrored so that one half of her face is visible on the left side of the cover and the other side is visible on the right side of the cover. The title text is written in bold yellow font, with the subtitle contained within a baby blue rectangle in the center of the page.

Larger images

December 2023
270 pp. 6 x 9
16 b/w illus.

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Cloth $79.95 S
ISBN 9780299346706
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