Undergraduate Research

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Alexander D'Jamoos

Alexander D'Jamoos
Major:
Government and Rhetoric & Writing
“I would advise to not be afraid to ask provocative questions and think outside of the box.”

Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Robert Moser, Government

Please tell us a little bit about your research project.

My research project seeks to analyze the propagandist tendencies of current news media in Russia. Academics, news pundits, human rights activists, and government officials have continuously called attention to the lack of freedom of speech in Russia. In light of recent conflict in Ukraine, the Russian news media has been playing a crucial role in articulating the Kremlin’s position throughout the political tensions. The purpose of my project is to analyze the degree to which the Russian government controls the views expressed by the news media and investigate whether elements of propaganda are currently present in Russia, as many analysts claim. Focusing on specific elements of the rhetoric in the Russian media is revealing in that, according to my preliminary conclusion, it does indeed contain elements of repetitive, hyperbolized and emotional speech characteristic of traditional aspects of propaganda.

How did you decide that you wanted to pursue research?

Until the age of 16, I grew up in an orphanage, located in a rural Russian town, Nizhny Lomov. When I moved to the United States, seeing the differences in social norms made me particularly interested in Russian politics, as well as the relationship between the U.S. and Russia. I was particularly struck by the formation of anti-American social attitudes within the Russian society, a phenomenon in which Russian state media plays an essential role. Since I read news in both American and Russian media, I became interested in studying why the coverage of current events differs between the two nations.

How did you get involved with your current research project?

Last summer I interned at one of Russia’s most respected and widely-read newspapers, Kommersant. I wanted to observe how journalists in Russia work and to what degree freedom of expression exists within the publishing industry. The experience was especially unique because of the escalating tensions between the U.S. and Russia, which was conspicuously reflected in the way the Russian media portrayed the events. This has prompted my interest in analyzing the degree to which Russian news media is free to express wide-range opinions, something that is rarely expected from Russian journalists.

Do you see your research connecting with your plans for your future?

I am currently planning to attend law school, with an intention to study international and comparative law. While my research project is focused on a narrow aspect of Russian civil society, I believe the discussion of freedom of speech in Russia is reflective and indicative of the fragility of Russia’s constitutional and legal framework. In the future, I hope to participate in the trade and/or diplomatic relations between Russia and the US. I believe my research project touches on one of the main indicators of the effectiveness of the relations between the two nations.

What’s been the greatest reward of doing research? The greatest challenge?

The greatest reward of doing research is that I am constantly reading news, given the fact that my topic is very current. The greatest challenge is to find research by Russian scholars, something that I haven’t been able to find so far.

What advice would you give to a student who was thinking about research?

To anyone thinking about research I would advise to not be afraid to ask provocative questions and think outside of the box. I also strongly believe that effectiveness and strength of research depends not on the amount of answers provided, but on the amount of correct questions asked.

Research Week showcases the exciting work of undergraduates across campus and highlights opportunities for students interested in getting involved. Co-sponsored by the Senate of College Councils and the School of Undergraduate Studies, Research Week takes place in the middle of April each year. Take a look at the online schedule of events to find out more about Research Week events.