Russian Modernism

Russian culture between the 1890s and the 1920s, including visual, musical, literary arts, and developments ranging from Neo-Christian mysticism, cosmism, synthesis of the arts, and revolutionary activism. Focus on literary-philosophical thought of that period. Taught in English. One course.

The Russian Novel

Close reading of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, Dostoevsky's Possessed, Andrey Bely's Petersburg, Bulgakov's Master and Margarita, Nabokov's The Gift, and Makine's Memoirs of My Russian Summers. Discussions will focus on these representative writers' changing perceptions of, and responses to social and ethical issues and of creativity, itself, as the genre evolved in the modern times between the 1870s and now. Final research paper required and can include in-depth discussion of one of the works or the comparison of one or more aspects of several texts. Taught in English. Readings in Russian.

Women and Russian Literature

Issues of gender and society in women's writing in Russian from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. Both autobiographical writings and prose fiction. Discussions of whether Russian women's writings constitute a tradition and what role these works have played in Russian literature and culture. Taught in English. Readings in Russian. One course.

The Struggle for Justice and Faith: Russian Literature and Culture, 1855-1900

Considers how Russian writers, artists, and activists addressed 19th-century Russia's cursed questions of “who is to blame” and “what is to be done”: specifically, how to reform an increasingly reactionary autocracy; how to bear witness for an impoverished underclass; what roles women should play in culture and politics; how to resist or improve on a soulless West; how to justify the existence of God in an unjust world. Course texts may include fiction and memoirs by Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Kovalevskaia, Figner; works of fine art, drama, and opera. One course.

Semiotics and Linguistics (DS4)

A survey of modern semiotics, particularly the works of C.S. Peirce, Roman Jakobson, Yury Lotman, Roland Barthes and Umberto Eco. Analysis of semiotic works directly related to questions of the construction of cultural and linguistic meaning, and linguistic sign theory. Emphasis on semiotic theories from a multi-cultural perspective, especially the European, Tartu, Soviet, and American schools. Research project required. One course.

Semiotics of Culture

The theory of literature, arts, ethnicity, modernity, and culture from a cross-cultural perspective. Texts include the theory of literature, arts, ethnicity, modernity, and culture from a cross-cultural perspective. Texts include the critical works of Lotman and the Tartu School, Bakhtin, Eco, Kristeva, Voloshinov, Medvedev, Barthes, Todorov, Jakobson, Ivanov, and Sebeok, as well as authentic culture texts from Slavic and European traditions. Research project required. One course.

Soviet Life through the Camera's Lens

An in-depth look at images and representations of Soviet life through Soviet and Russian film. Film texts include films shown in theatres, television films and forbidden films/films with a very limited distribution. Emphasis on the period from the mid-1970s through 1991. Course taught in Russian. Prerequisite: RUSSIAN 301S or equivalent or consent of instructor. One course.

Back in the U.S.S.R.: Everyday Soviet Culture, 1956-1989

Draws on film, fiction, songs, oral histories, and anthropological studies to explore the cultural expressions, lifestyles, ethical values, and sociopolitical concerns of postwar/Cold War generations of Soviet citizens. Highlighted topics: youth culture, the new consumerism, coping with the Stalinist legacy, politically dissident art and actions, the retreat into private life and nature, the rise of nationalisms. One course.

The Actress: Celebrity and the Woman

Explores through fiction, film, autobiographies, and biographies the significance and influence of the actress (on stage and screen) from eighteenth century to present day. Highlighted topics: actress's self-image and perception of her art; relationship between her public profession and private life; how she reflects/sets contemporary standards for beauty and lifestyle; how she provokes public debate over women's “appropriate” sexual, familial, professional, and public roles; her function as symbol/role model for her gender, race, nation.