Slavic R5B, Section 2: Early Sorrows: Memories of Childhood in Slavic Literature and Film

MWF 8-9, 246 Dwinelle. Instructor: Antje Postema.

Units: 4

This course satisfies the first half or the “A” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

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 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. Reading will be approximately 60-80 pages 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.    Danilo Kiš, Early Sorrows (New York: New Directions, 1998). ISBN: 978-0811213905
  2.    Czesław Miłosz, The Issa Valley (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1978). ISBN: 978-0374516956
  3.    Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles (New York: Penguin Classics, 1992). ISBN: 978-0140186253
  4.    Anna Starobinets, An Awkward Age (London: Hesparus Press, 2010). ISBN: 978-1843917144
  5.    Leo Tolstoy, Childhood, Boyhood, Youth (London: Penguin Classics, 2012). ISBN: 978-0140449921


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.