Slavic R5B, Section 2: Reading Revisited: How Literature Teaches us to Read

MWF 3-4, 279 Dwinelle. Instructor: Irina Kogel.

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.

“You are about to begin Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a Winter Night a Traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade….”  Thus begins Calvino’s novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler.  Taking the principle of addressing the reader to an extreme, Calvino actively makes his readers conscious of the process of reading and takes them through the steps of entering a novel and engaging with its worlds.  Though the act of reading is something that can become automated, it is an active and far from self-evident process.  Some texts consciously “bare the device,” showing how they are constructed, and instructing the reader on how they should be approached.  How is the process of drawing awareness to the literary texture of a given work achieved in different genres?  How does paying attention to the cues of the literary text change our experience of reading?  In this course we will read novels and short stories from the Russian, British, and Italian traditions, alongside comments about the act of reading from writers such as Virginia Woolf and Vladimir Nabokov, in order to explore how we can become more careful readers of texts and, in turn, better writers.

Course Objectives and Requirements: The goal of the second part of the R&C sequence is to improve your research and writing skills.  We will begin with a short ungraded diagnostic essay, and then move on to progressively longer essays, culminating in a 10-12 page research paper.  Drafting, rewriting, and peer review will be an integral part of the writing process.  We will also focus specifically on how to conduct research and incorporate secondary material into a research paper.  Regular attendance, close reading of all assignments, and active class participation are required.


Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (1817) Annotated Edition, ed. D. M. Shapard [Anchor Books, ISBN: 0307390802]
Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin (1833) trans. James E. Falen [Oxford World’s Classics, ISBN: 0199538646]
Fyodor Dostoevsky, “The Meek One” (1876) [course reader]
Vladimir Nabokov, “Signs and Symbols” (1946) and “The Vane Sisters” (1951) [course reader]
Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler (1979), trans. William Weaver [Harcourt Brace & Company, ISBN: 0156439611]

Virginia Woolf, “How Should One Read A Book?” (1925) [course reader]
Vladimir Nabokov, “Good Readers and Good Writers” (1948) [course reader]
Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer (2006) [excerpts in course reader]
Alberto Manguel, A History of Reading (1997) [excerpts in course reader]

Michael Hackett. The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing (Second Edition) [Hackett Pub Co, 2013; ISBN: 1603848983]

Prerequisite: Successful completion of the “A” portion of the Reading and Composition requirement or its equivalent. Students may not enroll in or attend R1B/R5B courses without completing this prerequisite.