Slavic 246A: Russian Modernism (1890s-1920s)

Tu 2-5, Dwinelle 6115. 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)

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: Advanced reading knowledge of Russian