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,

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 edition)

c) Authors' Bibliographies will be provided