The New Russia: Reflections of Post-Soviet Reality in Literature and Film

Examination of fiction and film in the post-Soviet period. Topics include: crime and social breakdown in the 1990s and 2000s; transformations of classic character types (anti-hero, virgin-whore, swindler-rogue); religious and ethical quests; taboo-breaking themes. Works by authors Sorokin, Grishkovets, Pelevin, Petrushevskaya, Sadur, Shishkin, Minaev, Tolstaya, Akunin, Ulitskaya and filmmakers Bodrov, Rogozhkin, Bekmambetov, Khlebnikov/Popogrebsky, Balabanov, and Sokurov. Readings and class discussions in English. One course.

Russian Short Fiction

The history, development, and shifts of Russian short fiction in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Authors include Dostoevsky, Vovchok, Leskov, Chekhov, Gippius, and Zoshchenko. Topics include gender, genre, and national identity in historical/cultural context. Taught in English. One course.

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. 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. 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.

The Quest for Identity: Russian Literature and Culture, 1800-1855

Examines how Russian writers and artists distinguished imperial Russia's modern political, social, and cultural identity under “Western eyes.” Topics include search for “truly Russian” models, topics, and styles; domestic debate between “Westernizing” and “Slavophile” camps; emergence of women writers; relations between urban and provincial cultures; connections between national identity formation and empire building.

The Russian Fairy Tale and Its Cultural Legacy

Introduction to Russia's extraordinary fairy tales and their rich legacy in modern Russian literature, music, visual and performing arts, and handicrafts. Reflects on the genesis of the the Russian fairy tale; samples thematic groups of tales (e.g., the “foolish” third son, stepmother-stepdaughter tales); reads tales as expressions of folk belief, works of oral art, explorations of the human psyche and human relations, and stylized reflections of their sociopolitical context. Also traces how certain tales have been reworked into other art forms. All texts in English translation.

The Turks: From Ottoman Empire to European Union

Readings in cultural history and literature to examine transformations in Turkish identity from the Ottoman era to EU accession. Discussion of the “gazi thesis,” the “sultanate of women,” religious tolerance (millets), conversion, modernity and nationalism. Secondary topics include Sufism, Islam, gender, and historiography. Interdisciplinary focus. Taught in English. One course.

The City of Two Continents: Istanbul in Literature and Film

Presents Istanbul, a city located in both Europe and Asia, as a site of political identities in conflict. Overview of contemporary literature and film set in Istanbul. Studies ethical implications of textual and visual representations of various people and groups interacting in urban spaces. Addresses the reasons for Turkey's love-hate relationship with the Ottoman past and Europe. Historical background, modernity, identity, Islam, and cosmopolitanism. Knowledge of Turkish not required. One course.