Slavic 39C: Freshman/Sophomore Seminar: Images of Eastern Europe

TuTh 11-12:30, Dwinelle 235. Instructor: David Frick.

Units: 3

We will examine images of an “other,” not quite european Europe in a variety of literary and visual representations. Two main genres will be at the center of our investigation: works of imaginative literature in which inhabitants of Eastern Europe seek to establish their own identities, and works of Western European and American literature that put Eastern Europe to their own thematic uses.

We will range from the Gothic clichés of Dracula, through more subtle attempts of Westerners and exiles to explain to Western readers what it means to cross the boundary between Eastern and Western Europe, to the versions of self-definition found in Eastern European novels and film, and finally to the ways in which Eastern Europe has become a part of the imaginative geography of Western literature and film. The ultimate goal of the course will be two-fold: to understand something about the countries of Eastern Europe and about the ways in which Eastern Europe has funtioned in our imaginations.

Primary focus will be on the twentieth century. Among the authors: Bram Stoker, Thomas Mann, Italo Calvino, John le Carré, Günter Grass, Milan Kundera, Ludvík Vaculík, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Gregor von Rezzori, Witold Gombrowicz.

Course requirements: class participation, two short papers (3–5 pp.), and an in-class essay examination.

Prerequisite: Freshman or sophomore status.