In this course, we will read short works of Russian fiction of the 19th century. We will consider writers who had a major impact on world literature, including Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, and more.
Our discussions will investigate major issues of the day, such as the nature of the workings of the brain and the unconscious, sex, sexuality, gender, war, Darwinian evolution, the concept of free will, the possibilities social change and progress, religion, and the existence of the afterlife. We will consider major debates discussed by philosophers, scientists, theologians, and others. We will ask: what do Russian novelists and writers offer to the basic understanding of the human condition? How can fiction writers inform our understanding of how we conceive of others and ourselves? Along the way, we will read from texts from outside of literature that were read by Russian novelists and writers (including works from the social sciences, hard sciences, and medicine). In this vein, this course is intended for both students interested in Russian literature and those in fields outside of the humanities, including those majoring in the social sciences and STEM.
Required Texts (updated July 30, 2020)
- Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Children, Trans. Michael R. Katz (Norton Critical Edition); ISBN: 0393927979
- Dostoevsky,Notes from Underground, Trans. Michael Katz (Norton Critical Edition); ISBN: 0393976120
- Leo Tolstoy, Childhood, Boyhood, Youth, Trans. Judson Rosengrant (Penguin Classics); ISBN: 0140449922
- Mikhail Lermontov, A Hero of Our Time, Trans. Paul Foote (Penguin Classics); ISBN: 0140447958
- Tolstoy’s Short Fiction, Ed. Michael Katz (Norton Critical Edition);ISBN: 0393931501
- Alexander Pushkin, Novels, Tales, Journeys: The Complete Prose of Alexander Pushkin, Trans. Pevear & Volokhonsky (Vintage Classics); ISBN: 0307949885
- Nikolai Gogol, The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol, Trans. Pevear and Volokhonsky (Vintage Classics); ISBN: 0375706158
This course is a requirement for the major in Russian Language and Literature, and a prerequisite for the minor in Russian Literature, and is recommended for prospective graduate students in Slavic. No knowledge of Russian is required; the classes and readings are in English.