Slavic 280: Graduate Literature Seminar: “Close and Distant Readings: Literature and its Contexts”

W 2-5, 6115 Dwinelle. Instructor: Irina Paperno and Eric Naiman.

Units: 4

Instructor email addresses:,

Cross-listed with Comparative Literature 225, Section 2.

In this seminar, we will read several major 19th and 20th century novels written in French, Russian and English. Central to our discussions will be the methodological question of the link (or gap) between close reading and cultural context, and we will combine attention to narrative and rhetoric with consideration of the novel’s involvement with epistemological, psychological and social issues (such as subjectivity, or consciousness, temporality, sexuality, body, family, crime) that fall into the domain of specialized disciplines and institution (such as psychology, or psychoanalysis, philosophy, law, religion, medicine). Some works will be discussed in class; others explored by students in individual projects. Our hope is that in addition to providing the opportunity to study several complex and influential novels, this course will be useful to students in their research and pedagogical practice, which, as of recent years, is frequently of inter/cross-disciplinary nature.

Key texts:

Flaubert, Madame Bovary (1856)

Dostoevsky, The Idiot (1868-69)

Proust, La Prisonnière (1923)

Nabokov, Lolita (1955)

The knowledge of Russian and French is not required, but those who can will read in the original.

Please purchase the following editions at (they are not ordered through the textbooks store):

Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary. Norton Critical Edition, 2005. 2nd ed., Margaret Cohen, ed. ISBN 0-393-97917-2

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot, Richard Peaver and Larissa Volokhonsky, translators; Vintage Classics. Paper. ISBN 978-0-375-70224-2

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time. Volume 5 The Prisoner and The Fugitive. Translated and with an Introduction by Carol Collier. General Editor: Christopher Prendergast. Penguin Books, 2003 Paper ISBN 978-0-141-18035-9 [this is a new translation, not readily available, but can be ordered via Amazon]

Vladimir Nabokov, The Annotated Lolita, Revised and Updated, Edited, with Preface, Introduction, and Notes by Alfred Appel, Jr. Vintage Books, 1991. Paper ISBN 0-679-72729-9

Prerequisites: Graduate standing; consent of instructor.