Slavic R5A, Section 3: Media, Politics, and Contemporary Russian Literature

MWF 8-9, 246 Dwinelle. Instructor: Christina Schwartz.

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 complex relationships between media, politics and literature in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union. We will take a critical look at defining events and their reverberations in the post-Soviet space: the fall of the Soviet Union, the war in Afghanistan, Chernobyl, the conflict in Chechnya, and the political protests of recent years. Readings are organized in clusters of both fiction and non-fiction works (novels, poetry, short stories, reportage, news coverage, blogs, films etc.) surrounding a particular event and its aftermath. Topics for reading and discussion will include:  the end of an empire, the construction of self and national identity in literature, the aesthetics of violence, war, tragedy and trauma, differences between fiction and non-fiction writing, and the role of media in constructive narratives.

The goal of this course is to develop skills in critical reading and writing; to learn to write clear, persuasive, and well-structured papers. Reading will be approximately 60-70 pages per week. Students will be expected to complete all assigned reading, and come to class prepared to participate actively in discussions. Writing assignments will include close readings of specific texts (1-2 pages), and four papers (paper 1 (4-5pages), paper 2 (5-6pages), paper 3 (revision of paper 2); paper 4 (6-7 pages)). We will work on all stages of the writing process: selecting a topic, developing arguments, structure and organization, word choice, sentence flow, and grammar.

Required Texts:
Zakhar Prilepin. Sankya. [Translator Mariya Gusev and Jeff Parker. Publisher: Disquiet. ISBN: 978-1938604515]
Viktor Pelevin. Homo Zapiens. [Translator: Andrew Bromfield. Publisher: Penguin Books. ISBN: 978-0142001813]
William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. The Elements of Style. [Publisher: Pearson. ISBN: 978-0205309023]

Course Reader may include:
Vladimir Makanin, Prisoner From the Caucasus; Anthony Marra, “Grozy Tourist Bureau”; Darragh McKeon, “The Empty City”Selection from Svetlana Alexievna, Voices from Chernobyl, Zinky Boys; Lawrence Scott Sheets, Eight Pieces of Empire; Anya Politkovskaya, Dispatches From Hell

Prerequisite:  Successful completion of the UC Entry Level Writing Requirement.  Students may not enroll in nor attend R1A/R5A courses without completing this prerequisite.