Slavic 190: Russian Culture: Portrayals of Justice in Russian Literary and Filmic Texts

MWF 1-2, Dwinelle 33. Instructor: Mark Kaiser.

Units: 4

In this course we will examine the concept of justice (справедливость / правосудие / юстиция) as presented in a variety of Russian texts, both literary and filmic, taking into consideration justice as practiced (or not) in the legal system, the striving to address social injustice, individuals’ confrontation with injustice on a personal level, Biblical justice and its reinterpretation or re-presentation in contemporary texts, and the responsibility (and failings) of the political leader to establish a just society. We will read selected literary texts from 19th and 20th century writers (e.g., Pushkin, Doestoevsky, Chekhov, Platonov, Trifonov), as well as journalistic accounts, and we will watch numerous films and clips by Russian directors (e.g., Eisenstein, Mikhalkov, Zvyagintsev, Bodrov, Abuladze).

Class format: This class will be conducted in a seminar/discussion format. Students will be assigned to read or watch a Russian text for each class session and will be expected to discuss the text in class. In addition, students will write weekly reaction papers (1-page) on the readings and viewings of the preceding week, make 3-5 formal presentations on texts, and write three 5-page papers in good academic Russian.

Prerequisite: The course is intended for students with advanced knowledge of Russian, both those who study Russian as a foreign language and heritage speakers. All texts will be read in Russian. Class lectures, discussions and student presentations will be conducted primarily in Russian.