The seminar will focus on a limited number of texts and critical interventions that have emerged as the most frequent points of theoretical reference in contemporary Slavic cultural and literary studies. We will read these texts closely and will attempt to place them within a broader theoretical context, one that goes beyond Slavic shores and often involves long-standing methodological debates in intellectual history. We will begin by reading between the lines and through the footnotes of such important works as Svetlana Boym’s The Future of Nostalgia (2001), Susan Buck-Morss’s Dreamworld and Catastrophe (2000), and Sharad Chari and Katherine Verdery’s “Thinking between the Posts: Postcolonialism, Postsocialism, and Ethnography after the Cold War” (2009). These in turn will take us to works by Adorno, Althusser, Benjamin, Heidegger, Marcuse, Said, Schmitt, and others. To use Boym’s work as an example of the type critical reading we’ll practice, the point of the seminar will be not only to understand the typology of nostalgia, but also to discern the impact of Heidegger’s ecstatic temporality on the distinctions she draws. A portion of the seminar will be reserved for one or two other widely-read texts in the Slavic critical milieu, which we’ll then examine in a similar fashion. These will be selected by those participating in the seminar to reflect their own academic interests and disciplinary formations (one can think here of a number of important contributions made by Boris Buden, Charity Scribner, Darko Suvin, Galin Tihanov, Maria Todorova, Katherine Verdery, Alexei Yurchak, and many others). Evaluations are based on participation, several response papers, and a term paper.
Prerequisites: graduate standing