Slavic 246A: Modernism

Th 2-5, 6115 Dwinelle. Instructor: Olga Matich.

Units: 4

Modernism will be studied in the context of Russian and European philosophy, literature, visual and cinematic arts, and contemporary culture wars (1890s – 1920s). Some of the topics to be covered are the anti-nature impulse of the decadence and erotic utopia, including the spheres of sex and gender; degeneration theory; the spiritual revival of the beginning of the 20th century called the “Russian religious renaissance;” the anti-historical tendency of symbolist and avantgarde ideology in conjuring the “new man;” aesthetic experiment in literature (synesthesia, fragmentation of whole, sdvig (displacement), montage, relationship of time and space, etc.); interdependence of literature and the other arts (painting and cinema); the city in Russian modernism. We will also consider modernism in relation to the concept of fin de siècle as in-betweenness and time period that spills over into the next century – in Russia lasting through the 1917 Revolution.

Primary Reading list:

F. Sologub, Petty Demon (Melkii bes)
A. Blok, The Twelve (Dvenadsat’) and selected poetry
A. Bely, Petersburg (Peterburg) and “Symbolism as a World View” (“Simvolizm kak miroponimanie”)
V. Mayakovsky, Cloud in Pants (Oblako v shtanakh), selected poetry, and avantgarde painting
V. Shklovsky, “Art as Device” (Iskusstvo kak priem”)
Yu. Olesha, Envy (Zavist’)
M. Kuzmin, Trout Breaks the Ice (Forel’ razbivaet led)

Films: E. Bauer, The Dying Swan (Umiraiushchii lebed’) and Dz. Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera (Chelovek s kinoapparatom)

Artists: W. Kandinsky, K. Malevich, V. Tatlin, and others

Course Requirement: Graduate standing; Advanced reading knowledge of Russian