Welcome to America through a Russian eyes. In this module we will discuss how Russia has perceived, imagined and construed the United States over the last 150 years of history. If you live in the United States or Russia at this moment, you probably know that the relationship between the two countries and their people is full of tension today dominated by mutual political accusations, economic and diplomatic sanctions and wide spread public mistrust. To what extent are these tensions new? To what extent are they built upon a history of frictions and conflicts between the two nations? This history indeed is long and has encompassed multiple parameters. The main one is that the two countries propagated competing ideologies for much of the 20th century between 1917 and 1991 Russia or rather the Soviet Union was a socialist country hoping to build communism a society organized around communal principals, collectively owned property, and the eradication of class divisions. The United States in the meantime was developing the most advanced form of capitalism firmly grounded in individual property and interests which intensified its class divisions. Furthermore, Russia and United States have always operated through two vastly different political systems. From the mid 16th century to 1917, Russia's political structure was rooted in the autocracy of the czarist regime, this czar exercising complete powers like a king. After the 1917 revolution, the Soviet system turned quickly to utilitarian, ruled by the upper echelons of the Communist Party with no input from the population. United States for its part has sought always to advanced democracy its constitution and democratic institutions thus preventing a total grab of power by any one person. These differences in ideologists and political systems culminated in the Cold War in the second half of the 20th century in which the two countries competed relentlessly with each other especially in the realms of science and military. The scientific competition resulted in the pace race sending both Russians and Americans into the cosmos. The military of competition was far less benign. It resulted to an enormous accumulation of nuclear weapons on both sides of the globe, in the doctrine of mutually assured destruction, and in a profound demonisation of each side by the other. But throughout these competitions and conflicts, the United States and Russia persistently desired to understand and grasp the other side and even considered the other as the mirror through which they see oneself. In this series of lectures, we will try to understand how certain historical circumstances and ingrained cultural beliefs gave rise to particular images of America in the eyes of Russians. Each chapter of this module will look at moments of encounters between Russia and United States, encounters that were both real and imagined, and that played a significant role in the development of Russia's perceptions and attitudes towards the United States and Americans. The next chapter will dive back into the 19th century to examine the importance of American slavery for Russian discussions about the fate of Russian serfdom. The rest of the chapters in this module will be dedicated to the 20th century. We will study the importance of the American industrial organization of labor for the newly emerging Soviet state, the Soviet fascination with Hollywood cinema, and Soviet travelers perceptions of American racial divisions. I will also offer a few chapters dealing with the Cold War. For instance the Soviet reception of American consumerist culture in the 1950s and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 in which a nuclear catastrophe was narrowly avoided. Later chapters in this module will focus on how Soviet immigrants in the United States perceived the new homeland and we will conclude this module with a discussion of Russians deep interest in the American people in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This was a rare moment of a sincere friendliness and desire to understand the real lives of the American people, and it was happening at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. It was the historical moment when Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms known as glasnost and perestroika first allowed for free speech and the country began it's painful transition towards capitalism. Before we begin, a few word are necessary to explain the title of this module 'America Through a Russian eyes'. The meaningful of Russian is far from uniform. Russia is a multi-ethnic territory whose borders have changed over time. Today, about a 185 ethnic groups live there such as Bashkir, Tatar, Chuvash, Mordvinians and so forth, and about a 100 different languages are spoken by this people with Russian being the official state language. Furthermore, the Russian, and after the 1917 revolution Soviet empire integrated neighboring territories with distinct cultural and religious traditions and languages such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Moldavia, Latvia and many more. During the Soviet times, this territories were known as Soviet National Republics all constituting the USSR the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics. In the last decades of the Soviet Union's existence there were 15 such republics including Russia. Thus, while we use the word Russian here, please keep in mind the ethnic diversity that this word designates. I will also frequently refer to the Soviet people, that is the people of all kinds of ethnicity including Russian who were the citizens of the Soviet Union as it existed between 1917 and 1991. Let us begin our journey today with a brief discussion of the very current state of affairs. In the last two years since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States November 2016, Russia has dominated the headlines of American news and not in a positive way. Russia is accused of meddling in the elections helping to elect Trump. Furthermore, the consequences of the Mueller investigation into the Trump campaigns possible collusion with Russia, which could result in charges of treason remain to be seen. Throughout this ongoing affair, the negative press about Russian interference in American politics that has dominated American media has not been received well in Russia. The idea that Russia could possibly influence, or worse elect an American president, has been deemed absurd by Russians and has led to all kinds of mockery across the Russian political spectrum. One example of this is Dmitry Kiselyov a popular TV personality and Putin sympathizer who strived by propagating Anti-American sentiment. As soon as the news about Russia's possible interference surfaced, Kiselyov insisted that the CIA had conspired to overthrow Trump and was using Putin as escaped goat. Kiselyov direct his sharpest criticism at the American media and especially at the New York Times. In his mind the newspaper used to be the most respected media outlet but its reputation plummeted. To prove this, Kiselyov quotes none other than Trump himself who declared that no paper is more corrupt than the failing New York Times. For Kiselyov then, Trump functions as the bearer of truth, exonerating not only himself but also Russia from any wrong doing. Such attitudes towards the American press are not limited to partisan TV host. After the conclusion of the Mueller investigation in March 2019, the Russian Foreign Ministry itself demanded an apology from the American media to Russian and American audiences for what it believes was an un-grounded smear campaign against Russia. Kislelyov's views are extreme and they parallel what American audiences might see and hear on Fox News. But it is important to know that Russian political divisions don't neatly aligned with the left and the right of American politics and even those Russians who are critical of Putin's government are also skeptical of the collusion claims. For many of them the idea that Putin could extend his powers deeply into the American heartland borders on the ridiculous. One example of this would be Russian journalist Alexey Kovalev who is the critic of Putin and of the Russian media, suggested in an up head in the New York Times that while the end of the investigation could offer an opportunity for a new and productive dialogue between the two countries, Russia's image of Americans might have been irrevocably damaged. This damage is caused less by the investigation and more by the current cultural images of Russians that have dominated the American media. The American media his opinion has become similar to the Russian media, disseminating propaganda rather than truth. The verdict, of course, is still out on the extent of Russia's meddling and of Russians misconception of the American media. But we can say for sure that Russian perceptions of the Americans have already reached a new low with many Russian thinking of the Americans as wrapped up in their own mess and incapable of understanding another culture. With this in mind let us now go back in time. In the next chapter, we will begin our reflection on the complex trajectory of the highs and lows of Russian attitude towards the United States and Americans.