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 f
rom 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 populace;
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 le
gends, 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 Russian.
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 pa
rticipation 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 inte
rpretations 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 i
nto 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 we
ek 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 min
ute oral report and its written version--30%; final paper--40%; summaries and discussions of texts and critical sources--20%; serving as a discussiant--10%.