Over the course of the semester we will read a range of Russian texts – in the form of short stories and some lyric poetry – from the nineteenth century to the late twentieth. Our principal goal will be to read and analyse literary works. The overarching theme of this semester’s course is the CITY. As in other countries, the Russian city has been the locus of culture as well as political power. The city reflects more vividly the movement of history as well as the contradictions of the modern age. The Russian city embodies the aspirations of church and state, but is also the home of the average citizen caught between the rhythms of everyday life and epochal events such as war and revolution. We will be focusing on Russia’s two principal cities, St. Petersburg (Leningrad) and Moscow, but also touching briefly on the provinces. Authors to be read include Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevskii, Chekhov, Zoshchenko, Blok, Pasternak, Tsvetaeva, Berggol’ts, Baranskaia, Tolstaia, Dovlatov and Erofeev.
All readings will be provided in handouts or online. We will read all the texts in the original Russian; discussion and written work will be in both Russian and English.