Russia-Ukraine War and Putin's Pull toward Narrative | Dr. Stephen Norris #36

Russia-Ukraine War and Putin's Pull toward Narrative | Dr. Stephen Norris #36

Russia-Ukraine War and Putin's Pull toward Narrative | Dr. Stephen Norris #36 

Is Putin being led by a pull toward narrative? What does that even mean? Putin is a student of history--specifically, he loves to talk about the exploits of various Russian figures in history: Catherine, the Great being a prime example. Does Putin see himself as the next "great"? Is this one of the main reasons why he is doing this? I've discussed on this podcast that one of the defining traits of our Neomodern culture is the urge to create stable narratives, to define one's self and make sense of one's place in history. Although the history and circumstances surrounding the invasion of Ukraine is complex, I do believe that part of the story is Putin's yearning to create narrative. Leaders have been doing this for thousands of years, and they will continue to do it. Why? Is it power? Sometimes. However, I think it often has more to do with the classical understanding of glory. For the Greeks, glory was not riches and lands; glory was a sustainable story of one's deeds that would transcend the life of the individual. Is Putin seeking glory? That might be a part of it. It is for this reason that I have invited Dr. Stephen Norris on the show, the Walter E. Havighurst Professor of Russian history at Miami University-Ohio. In this episode, we talk about narratives, history, NATO, and the people in both Russia and Ukraine who are fighting to end this war. 


Links for helping the people in Ukraine: 


Voices for Children:

Works by Dr. Stephen Norris:

Faculty site:


00:00 Introduction

02:36 How did we get to this point?

07:43 The ramping up of patriotic culture in Russia

14:43 Virgil and the story of the rise of Rome

21:08 Are Russians getting competing news narratives?

24:59 Is rapid technological production proving a problem for Putin?

29:53 Is Putin being led by the narratives of the past?

36:03 Unrealistic demands. 

40:26 John Mearsheimer's claims of Western responsibility

46: 30 The conversation needs to include Ukraine

50:15 What gives you hope for this region that has provided so much culturally?

53:21 Thank you, Dr. Norris. Where can we learn more about your work?

53:36 Closing


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