The proposed thesis will trace the historical portrayal of the Russian character through penological narratives, from the late nineteenth century through to the early twenty-first century. The thesis will contend that the Russian character is a politically-charged one which has been used by various groups to represent their interests and to challenge the existing hegemony. It will employ the theories of the Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin to inform the investigation. The research will be conducted with a New Historicist approach, with the understanding that literature, and any critical analysis of literature, is grounded in social, historical and political forces. The findings of the proposed research will provide new interpretations and insights into how the Russian character has been constructed throughout time, as well as shed light on previously neglected and overlooked Russian penological narratives.
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