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 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
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

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

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

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