Slavic R5B, Section 2: Early Sorrows, Magic Carpets: Memories of Childhood

MWF 8-9, Dwinelle 187. Instructor: Antje Postema.

Units: 4

This course focuses on how childhood has been represented in narrative and visual media across the Slavic-speaking world. Reading texts with children as narrators and those that thematize childhood allows for a productive investigation of the changing cultural values attached to childhood across time and space. This course will closely track a repertoire of artistic modes used frequently to document and imagine childhood. In it, students will keep a constant focus on how themes of childhood are inseparably bound up with those of memory and affect, family and community, identity and development, rights and responsibilities, innocence and freedom.

This class will provide opportunities to develop three interrelated skills: critical reading, meaningful discussion, and clear academic writing. By the end of the semester, students will be comfortable analyzing a variety of texts with a careful eye for nuance and considering alternative viewpoints. Approximately 60-80 pages of reading will be assigned per week. Students will be expected to complete all assigned reading and come to class prepared to participate actively in class discussion. Writing assignments will include close readings of specific texts, reading responses, as well as three papers. Over the course of the semester, students will focus on all stages of the writing process: selecting an essay topic, crafting a thesis, developing and sustaining an argument, working with sources, structuring units of prose, editing and proofreading, word choice, sentence flow, and other topics in grammar, mechanics, and usage.

Required Texts:

  1. Nina Bunjevac. Fatherland (New York: Liveright, 2015). ISBN: 978-1631490316
  2. Maxim Gorky, My Childhood (New York: Penguin Classics, 1991). ISBN: 978-0140182859
  1. Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory (New York: Vintage, 1989). ISBN: 978-0679723394
  1. Saša Stanišić, How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone (New York: Grove Press, 2009). ISBN: 978-0802144225
  2. Leo Tolstoy, Childhood, Boyhood, Youth (London: Penguin Classics, 2012). ISBN: 978-0140449921

A course reader will be made available for purchase. It will include short readings from the following authors: Daniela Fischerová, Danilo Kiš, Bruno Schulz, and Anna Starobinets.

Prerequisite:  Successful completion of the “A” portion of the Reading & Composition requirement or its equivalent.  Students may not enroll in nor attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.

Due to the high demand for R&C courses we monitor attendance very carefully. Attendance is mandatory the first two weeks of classes, this includes all enrolled and wait listed students. If you do not attend all classes the first two weeks you may be dropped. If you are attempting to add into this class during weeks 1 and 2 and did not attend the first day, you will be expected to attend all class meetings thereafter and, if space permits, you may be enrolled from the wait list.