Slavic R5B, Section 3: Me, Pre-Selfie: Problems of Self-Representation

TuTh 8-9:30, 115 Kroeber. Instructor: Matthew Kendall.

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 second half or the “B” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement.

What does it really mean to take a selfie? In this course, we will closely analyze several films and literary texts that question the forms, ethics, and complications of self-representation. Although the works that we will read and watch predate digital culture, they challenge and critique practices of self-representation that remain highly relevant to our contemporary moment. Many of our texts come from the 19th century Russian literary canon, when the relationship between literature and life was fruitfully explored.

The central goal of this course is to develop the skills necessary for writing clear, persuasive, and well-informed papers. Secondly, we aim to cultivate basic and effective research skills, and we will learn how resources like Berkeley’s library help us write better papers.

Each major text will coincide with a film screening, and in class discussions we will determine how 20th century visual culture augments, relates to, or alters the themes that accompany self-representation in our classic texts. The advent of the camera, a phenomenon concurrent to several of our texts, has dramatically changed how we understand self-representation. Alongside our literary study, we will develop a basic vocabulary and toolbox for visual analysis in order to discuss the films screened in class.

Required texts (to be purchased):
Lermontov, Mikhail. A Hero of our Time (trans. Paul Foote)
Dostoevskii, Fedor. The Double (trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky)
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Norton Critical ed.)

To be provided:
Amis, Martin. The Immortals”
Gogol, Nikolai. “The Nose” and “Diary of a Madman” (trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky)
Knausgaard, Karl Ove. My Struggle (vols. 1, 5)

David Holzman’s Diary (Dir. Jim McBride, 1967)
Psycho (Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1961)
Sunset Boulevard (Dir. Billy Wilder, 1950)
Nostalgia (Hollis Frampton, 1971)

Persona (Dir. Ingmar Bergman 1966)
Centers and Themesong (Vito Acconci, 1971)