External Article: Lecture By Skype

Dr. Martha Kelly's Spring 2016 course "Pepsi, Putin, Pussy Riot, and Protest: Post-Soviet Literature in Russia" was featured in an article by Maggie Teson for MU's Teaching and Learning Center. Read more at the source or view the full text here.

Lecture by Skype

Technology brings UK professor into MU classroom

By Maggie Teson

Earlier this month, Polly McMichael, professor at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, delivered a lecture via Skype to MU students enrolled in a course about contemporary Russian culture.

The class, called Pepsi, Putin, Pussy Riot, and Protest: Post-Soviet Literature in Russia, is taught by Martha Kelly, assistant professor in MU’s German and Russian Studies Department. She believes guest lecturers help connect her students to important conversations about Russia.

“The Skype lectures give students a more direct feeling of access to the cultural conversation, and it personalizes it for them,” Kelly says. “I think it’s very different from reading an article in a textbook or a journal. It’s a much more lively way to have an in-depth discussion.”

McMichael researches rock music and stardom during the last decades of the Soviet Union. She also examines popular Russian contemporary music. Her hour-long Skype lecture focused on the Pussy Riot phenomenon, which is what students in Kelly’s class were studying at the time.

Pussy Riot is a Russian art-punk protest group that uses music to champion feminist values and LGBT rights, and to oppose Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2012, two of the group’s members were imprisoned for two years after Pussy Riot performed a protest song in Moscow’s main Orthodox cathedral. Media outlets worldwide condemned the imprisonment and more than 100 internationally renowned musicians called for the release of the two members.

“One of the reasons I want my students to learn about Pussy Riot is because it is a part of contemporary Russian culture they may have heard about because the group was so big in the global media,” Kelly says. “I wanted to help them understand a bit of the context, especially as the Putin regime continues to tighten its control.”

During her lecture, McMichael engaged students with a PowerPoint presentation, played clips of Soviet and contemporary Russian rock music, and showed one of Pussy Riot’s music videos. She also permitted students to ask questions about her work and the presentation.

“When I was thinking about people who would be good speakers for this class, I thought about Polly,” Kelly says.

McMichael is not the only guest who lectured Kelly’s class via Skype. Terrell Jermaine Starr, a New York City-based freelance journalist who focuses on U.S. and Russian politics, also talked to her class. He frequently writes for the Washington Post about race, free speech and other issues relevant to contemporary Russia.

Martha Kelly