Slavic Languages and Literatures | Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature 1
R505 | ALL | Staff

Course description / Preliminary Syllabus

Class objective:
The principal objective is to give students an overview of the development
of Russian  literature during 1800s-1850s. and to prepare them for a
thorough understanding of the main  literary phenomena that grew dominant
through the second half of the 19th century. A focus of the  class is the
analysis of the primary sources: even if English translations are available,
references  will be given to the original.  The course begins with the
designation of Sentimentalism and Romanticism, as particular  features of
their styles and narrative principles can be seen in the works of N.
Karamzin and V.  Zhukovsky. The focal point of further discussios is the
general concept of Realism: how does the  notion of faithfulness to nature
(mimesis) progress through different aesthetic principles and  practices of
the nineteenth century Russian writers? Is the so called "Russian Realism"
of mid- 1820s -1850s a dialogical/polemical reconstitution of the
foundations of the Sentimentalist and  Romantic aesthetics?  What is the
interconnectedness between literary theories, poetic practices,  the social
history of literature, cultural history, and literary interpretations?

Each class session is divided in two parts: lecture (5.30--7.00 p. m.) and
discussion  (7.00-8.00). Students' participation in the discussions is
absolutely required. The guidelines for  discussions are provided by the
instructor.   Every student will be asked to make one formal in-class
presentation of approx. 20 mins.  length. and to produce two research
reports of approx. 8-10 pages length. There will be no final  exam for this

Oral presentation will involve either an introduction to a literary work not
discused in class (i.e ,  Pushkin's Dubrovsky;  a work by M. Zagoskin, a
narrative poem by M. Lermontov, etc.), or a  comparative summary of
theoretical views (i.e., M. Katz, The Literary Ballad in Early 19th Cent  in
Russ. Lit.  and G. Malcolm Laws, The British Literary Ballad).  Paper  1
Option A: Examination of a Russian literary text from the perspective of a
Russian and a non- Russian pretext. Option B: Examination of a Russian
literary text from the position of the early ninetenth century  criticism
and from the position of a contemporary literary theory. Paper  2
Introduction to a narratological problem. A major work from the Required
Reading List is to be  discussed.

Grades are based upon the following rationale: Quizzes and weekly
discussions--25% Oral presentations--25% Midterm and Final paper--25%  each

Required reading:

A. Russian 19th century drama: an overview (all texts, with an exception of
Lensky's  vaudevilles, are English from An Anthology of Russian
Plays, ed. F. D. Reeve, Vintage,  1961. One can also use A. Ostrovsky, Five
Plays, tr. E. Bristol, N.Y.: Pegasus, 1969)

A. S. Griboedov, "Gore ot uma", A. Pushkin, "Boris Godunov", N. Gogol',
"Revizor", D. Lenskii, "Lev  Gurych Sinichkin" and Russian vaudeville; A.
Ostrovsky and the mid-nineteenth century Russian  drama.   In addition to
"Boris Godunov" (which is a required text for this course) every student is
expected  to choose two comedies, one drama (either Griboedov and Ostrovsky
or Gogol and Ostrovsky), and  one vaudeville.

B. Russian prose narrative, its thematics and aesthetic forms:

N. M. Karamzin. Pis'ma russkogo puteshestvennika (excerpts);. Povesti
"Bednaia Liza',   "Natal'ia Boiarskaia doch'", "Ostrov Borngol'm" (Engl.
transl: Selected Prose of N. M. Karamzin,  1969) V. A. Zhukovsky,
"Liudmila", "Svetlana." A. S. Pushkin, Collected Narrative and Lyrical
Poetry.  Evgenii Onegin. Povesti Belkina. Puteshestvie v Arzrum (Engl.
transl available) Russian Romantic Prose:  A. Bestuzhev-Marlinskii,
"Revel'skii turnir", "Ispytanie". V. Odoevskii, Russkie nochi ("Brigadir",
"Bal", "Nasmeshka mertvetsa"), "Kniazhna Mimi",  "Sil'fida" M. Lermontov,
Geroi nashego vremeni. Kniaginia Ligovskaia (Engl tr available).. N. Gogol'.
"Taras Bul'ba". "Peterburgskie povesti". Mertvye dushi.(available in
English) The early growth of Russian Realism: Feuilletons and Physiological
Sketches  (A. I. Gertsen, V. Dal', D. Grigorovich, Ia. Butkov, N. Nekrasov,
F. Dostoevsky) F. Dostoevsky, Bednye liudi, Dvoinik.(Engl. tr. avail.) A.
Gertsen, Kto vinovat., Byloe i dumy, (parts I-IV, Engl. tr. avail, secondary
reading for this  course) I. Goncharov, Obyknovennaia istoriia (Engl. tr.
avail.), Oblomov (secondary reading for this  course) I. Turgenev, "Zapiski
okhotnika ", Rudin. (Engl. tr. avail).

Secondary sources and Criticism:

a) General D. Mirsky. A History of Russian Literature D. Chizhevsky. History
of Nineteenth-cent. R. Lit, 2 vols. V. Terras,  Handbook of R. Lit R.
Freeborn, A History of Russian Novel John Mersereau, Russian Romantic
Fiction (Ardis, 1883).

b) Genres, Styles, and European Connection

A. Bold. The Ballad (1979) M. Katz, The Literary Ballad in Early 19th cent
in Russian Lit (1976) G. Malcolm Laws, The British Literary Ballad (1972)
Zhukovskii i Russkaia kul'tura Sbornik nauchnykh trudov (L., 1987). Iu.
Lotman, B. Uspenskii, "Pis'ma russkogo puteshestvennika  Karamzina i ikh
mesto v razvitii  russkoi kul'tury", in N. M. Karamzin, Pis'ma russkogo
puteshestvennika (L., Nauka, 1984). Ju. Mann  Poetika russkogo romantizma
(M., 1976) William Mills Todd III. Fiction and Society in the Age of Pushkin
(Harvard Univ. Press. 1986) Art and Culture in Nineteenth-cent. Russia (UI
Press, 1983) N. P. Antsyferov, Dusha Peterburga (L., 1978 or any other

c) Authors' Bibliographies will be provided