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

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

Units: 4

Russian Modernism will be studied in the context of Russian and European philosophy, literature, and the visual and cinematic arts. Russian symbolism will be the focus of the course. We will consider the Russian culture wars between the representatives of modernism and their opponents from the pre-revolutionary 1890s through the 1920s. Some of the topics to be covered are degeneration theory; the anti-nature impulse of the decadence and erotic utopia, including the spheres of sex and gender; the spiritual revival of the beginning of the 20th century called the “Russian religious renaissance;” the anti-historical tendency of symbolist and avant-garde ideology in conjuring the “new man;” aesthetic experiment in literature (synesthesia, fragmentation of whole, sdvig (displacement), etc.); interdependence of literature and the other arts; the city in Russian literature.

Reading list:
F. Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy
F. Sologub, Petty Demon (Melkii bes) and selected poetry
A. Blok, The Twelve (Dvenadsat’), Scythians (Skify) and selected poetry
A. Bely, Petersburg (Peterburg) and “Symbolism as a World View” (“Simvolizm kak miroponimanie”)
V. Mayakovsky, Cloud in Pants (Oblako v shtanakh) and selected poetry
Yu. Olesha, Envy (Zavist’)
M. Kuzmin, Trout Breaks the Ice (Forel’ razbivaet led)

Selections from Ch. Baudelaire, J.-K. Huysmans, M. Nordau, V. Shklovsky, and others.

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

Prerequisites: Graduate standing; consent of instructor.