Slavic 134E: Chekhov

MWF 3-4, Dwinelle 234. Instructor: Anna Muza.

Units: 4 Satisfies L&S Arts & Literature breadth requirement.

Cross-listed with English 166, Section 7.

Anton Chekhov’s (1860-1904) prominence in the English-speaking world is comparable only to Shakespeare’s place in Russian culture. This course is devoted to Chekhov’s fictional and dramatic writing, and to the lasting influence of his art and persona on modern imagination.
We will read closely Chekhov’s short stories and plays, and situate his literary idiom in its historical context. We will discuss the inherent connections between his narrative and dramatic texts; examine his thematic and formal innovations; and consider his understated, elusive vision of human experience. We will compare different translations of his work and think about translation in broad cultural terms. We will also watch a few theater productions and film adaptations of Chekhov’s drama and follow the idea of the ‘Chekhovian’ as it evolves in the course of the twentieth century, in Russia and beyond.
Readings for every class are short (typically, 15-20 pages) but need to be thorough.
Random reading quizzes will check your textual knowledge. There will be three short essays (from one to three pages) and short written home assignments, and a course paper.

The Portable Chekhov. Viking Portable Library. Ed. by Avrahm Yarmolinsky. (Editor).
Anton Chekhov’s Short Stories. Selected and edited by Ralph Matlaw. A Norton Critical Edition.
Anton Chekhov. The Major Plays. Signet Classic. Translated by Ann Dunnigan. Signet reprint, 2006.
A Course Reader.

Prerequisites: None.