Comparative Literature | Topics in Literary Genres, Modes and Forms: Questioning Genre from Schlegel to Baktin
C611 | 31828 | J. Emery

4 cr
MW 7:00 pm - 8:15 pm

The foundational texts of Russian literature include Alexander
Pushkin's poem Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse and Nikolai Gogol's
novel Dead Souls: A Poem.  This moment of confusion in the
categories of novel and poem points to the need to interrogate the
opposition of verse and prose as literary modes.  Although they
fundamentally organize our experience of literary language, we often
do not think through how tenable these categories are, the degree to
which they interpenetrate each other, or on what the contrast is

This class uses the historical moment of the Russian Golden Age as a
point of entry into this complex of issues.  We will look back to
the evolution of the categories of verse and prose in European
literature and theory, forward to experimental texts that juxtapose
or hybridize both modes of language, and aside to cultural contexts
in which verse and prose relate on radically different terms (like
medieval allegory, Renaissance drama, or early Japanese and Chinese
fiction).  At the same time, we will consider theoretical approaches
that attempt to rigorously define the genres of verse and prose in
opposition to each other, to historicize their dialectical
development, or to subordinate one category to the other.  Besides
Pushkin and Gogol, readings may include Vladimir Nabokov, Lewis
Carroll, Osip Mandelstam, Shakespeare, Cao Xue Qin, Anne Carson, Guy
Davenport, and texts associated with the French Oulipo group; we
will also engage the theoretical writings of Friedrich Schlegel,
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Yuri Tynianov, Roman Jakobson, Andrei Bely,
Georg Lukacs, Mikhail Bakhtin.