Slavic Languages and Literatures | Seminar in Russian Literature
R601 | ALL | Staff

The City as an Image in Russian Literature: Nina Perlina

"The image of the city" can be traced through various depictions of Moscow
and Petersburg--the two metropolitan cities, as well as through the
portrayals of small provincial towns in the works of Russian writers. The
seminar covers the time span from 1147 (the first reference to Moscow in the
Chronicles) to 1991 (Leningrad's regaining its "maiden name" of Sankt
Peterburg). The seminar discusses anthropological, cultural and individual
perceptions of real historical time, space, and communal cohabitation from
several theoretical positions.
a). It treats the city from the position of cultural semiotics, as "a
cauldron of semiotic codes" which preserve, reconstitute and generate new
cultural perceptions on communal cohabitation;
b). It utilizes Bakhtinian ideas on carnival and carnivalization and
discusses different manifestations of carnivality in the life of the
c). The seminar adopts the main thesis of Russian "Culturologists" who
treated the city as "the living organism," and thus applies the notion of
the soul and of the body to different manifestations of urban life.

The seminar's rationale suggests a multifocal perspective which will enable
it to utilize a variety of interdisciplinary interests and academic
approaches and to attract graduate studens from other departments. The
reading list is built mainly by literary texts and theoretical studies which
are not included into other graduate courses, and to this extent the seminar
may assist the Graduates in their search for the prospective dissertation
topics. Readings for the course include historical sources, folk legends,
plays, narrative poems and fragments from the novels, as well as different
theoretical studies that provide cultural, socio-historical, and aestheic
views of the city.
The seminar is conducted in English, the reading list includes alternatives
for those not feeling comfortable with reading works in literary theory in
Except for two beginning sessions, the seminar will be conducted as a
colloquium;  the participants are obliged to contribute to analytical
readings and interpretations of both primary sources and critical studies
(see the reading list). In addition to participation in daily discussions,
each student is expected:
1.    to present a 20 min. report and to serve as a discussant of someone
else's talk. The reports are to be submitted in both oral and written form
(about 8-10 pp);
2.    to prepare an overview of a group of theoretical sources and to
consider their methodological merits as well as the major questions they
raise (10-12 pp);
3.    to develop the second paper into a thorough analytical study of a
chosen literary text. The final paper is expected to be about 15 pp plus
bibliography (a potential contribution to a professional journal).

Grades are based upon the following rationale:
Weekly discussions -- 15%
Oral presentations and the discussants' comments -- 25%
An overview of theoretical sources --25%
Final paper -- 35%

Seminar in Russian Literture: Nina Perlina

Gogol and Bulgakov

The seminar will examine the following major areas of
Gogol-Bulgakov correlations:
1. Motifs, themes and recurrent images which the writers believed to be
central for their time and their writings: Gogol's text within the context
of Bulgakov 's writings

2. Reflection and self-reflection as the main principles of Gogol's and
Bulgakov's poetics: creative intuition in Gogol and Bulgakov; "author and
the authorities" as the subject of contemplation.

3. Irony and self-irony on Gogol and Bulgakov: the structures of irony;
irony, parody and satire in Gogol and Bulgakov

4. The structure of an individual masterpiece in Gogol and in Bulgakov:
aesthetics and ethics of metapoesis in their writings. Language
prerequistits: those working toward Ph. D. in Russian are expected to read
selections in Russian (special arrangements will be made). The seminar
(conducted in English) will be coordinated with other graduate courses and
seminars (R-505/506; R-507/508) taught at the department of Slavic Languages
and Literatures. Students are expected to be familiar with the masterpiecse
included in undegraduate surveys. Knowledge of Dead Souls  and Master and
Margarita  are required.  The seminar combines lectures (4 - 5.45) and
topical discussions (5.55 - 6.45); the participants are required to
contribute to analytical readings and interpretations of primary sources and
critical studies. Oral presentations start October 24. The guidelines for
weekly discussions are provided by the instructor. The entire corpus of
Gogol's and Bulgakov's writings will be arranged thematically and broken
into two parts: required and recommended/alternative readings

Every student will be asked:
1.    to present a 20 minute report and to serve as a discussant at someone
else's presentation. Presentations are to be submitted in both oral and
written form; the instructor and the discussant are to be provided with the
written copy of a report one week prior to the presentation

2.    to produce a research on individual works or a particular aspect of
Gogol/Bulgakov poetics. The final paper is expected to be about 15 pages (a
potential contribution to a professional journal) Grades are based upon the
following rationale: a 20 minute oral report and its written version--30%;
final paper--40%; summaries and discussions of texts and critical
sources--20%; serving as a discussiant--10%.