Slavic 39: Images of Eastern Europe

W 2-4, Dwinelle 6307. Instructor: David Frick.

Units: 2

We will examine images of an “other,” not quite European Europe in a variety of literary and film representations.  Two main genres will be at the center of our investigation:  works of imaginative literature and film 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 ultimately to the ways in which Eastern Europe has become a part of the imaginative geography of Western literature and film.  The 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 functioned in our imaginations.

Primary focus will be on the twentieth century.  The authors:  Bram Stoker, Italo Calvino, Gregor von Rezzori.  Films by Stanley Kubrick and Roman Polański.

You must come to class with a printed book.  Please use the editions specified as much as possible (they should be available and cheap, especially if you look for used copies); if you can’t find it, use another one.  It is best if we are all on the “same page.”  Electronic devices may be used in class only for taking notes.

Course requirements:  attendance and active class discussion participation with preparation (75%) and a final examination with the instructor (25%).  No prerequisites.


Bram Stoker, Dracula (Norton Critical Edition), New York, 1996.  ISBN-10: 0393970124; ISBN-13: 978-0393970128.

Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, New York, 1982.  ISBN-10: 0156439611; ISBN-13: 978-0156439619.

Gregor von Rezzori, Memoirs of an Anti-Semite, New York, 2007.  ISBN-10: 1590172469; ISBN-13: 978-1590172469.


The Fearless Vampire Killers, Or:  Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck (1967, Roman Polański, Director; also known as Dance of the Vampires)

Dr. Strangelove (1964, Stanley Kubrick, Director)

White (1994, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Director)

The reading is moderate.  You will be required to prepare the reading in advance for each session.  Films will be viewed and discussed in class.

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