Slavic R5A, Section 1: Man and Nature

TuTh 8-9:30, 251 Dwinelle. Instructor: Lily Scott.

Units: 4

All Reading & Composition courses must be taken for a letter grade in order to fulfill this requirement for the Bachelor’s Degree. This course satisfies the first half or the “A” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

This course will explore the relationship between humans, animals and the natural world in Russian and American literature. Although the relationship between man and nature as it is defined in a given society often translates to serious material consequences, the dynamic of the relationship between human and nonhuman worlds is always culturally constructed and constantly shifting.  In this course, we will treat the natural world as a critical category akin to race, class or gender and consider how our selected texts depict the relationship between humans and the physical environment.  We will explore the tension between the desire to “civilize” and “tame” nature and the allure of wilderness. We will investigate the various conceptions of “native” or “wild” people, who occupy an unstable position in the dominant binary oppositions of man vs. nature and nature vs. culture in Russian and American literature. Topics for reading and discussion may include: literary models of nature (such as garden or wilderness), feminization of the natural world (the woman/nature analogy), the body, landscape and national identity, nature and ideology, literature and environmental consciousness, “civilized” man vs. “natural” or “wild” man.   We will use the theme of man and nature as a jumping off point to consider greater narrative issues such as point of view, style, structure and genre. We will interrogate our texts to discover the narrative strategies employed by an author in order to put forth different ecological visions and ask how these strategies shape the structure of the work as a whole.

The goal of the course will be to develop skills in critical reading and college essay writing.  Over the course of the semester students will be expected to complete all assigned reading (approximately 60-70 pages per week), compose four papers (paper 1 (5pp), paper 2 (5-7pp); paper 3 (a revision of paper 2); paper 4 (7-10pp)), and actively participate in class discussions.

Required Texts – be sure to buy the following editions:

Leo Tolstoy. Hadji Murat. Translated by Hugh Aplin. Hesperus Classics (2003). [ISBN-10: 1843910330; ISBN-13: 978-1843910336]

Alexander Pushkin. The Captain’s Daughter. Trans. Robert and Elizabeth Chandler. Hesperus Classics (2007). [ISBN-10: 184391154X; ISBN – 13: 978-1843911548]

Cormac McCarthy. Blood Meridian or The Evening Redness in the West. Vintage International Edition (1992). [ISBN-10: 0679728759; ISBN-13: 978-0679728757]

Andrei Platonov, Soul and Other Stories. Translated by Robert and Elizabeth Chandler. New York Review of Books Classics (2007). [ISBN-10: 59017-254; ISBN-13: 978-1-59017-254-4]

Michael Harvey. The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing (2nd Edition). Hackett Publishing Co. (2013). [ISBN-10: 1603848983; ISBN-13: 978-1603848985]