Fall 2007

Russian Literature and Society: The Rise of a National Tradition

Listed in: Russian, as RUSS-21


Michael M. Kunichika (Section 01)


Literature was the main vehicle for the transmission of national culture and identity in nineteenth-century Russia. In a society limited by repressive censorship and authoritarian rule, the Russian author assumed the role of a "second government." Why and how did Russian writers ascend to this special status? What is uniquely Russian about Russian literature? What gives it power to shape and influence identities? This course studies the emergence of a national literary tradition in Russia as it was fashioned by writers and their reading publics in the first half of the nineteenth century. Among authors to be read are Karamzin, Pushkin, Gogol, Lermontov, Pavlova, Turgenev, Goncharov, and early Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. Literary texts will be placed in their wider social and cultural contexts, Russian as well as European. Topics for discussion include the Russian public sphere, the role of the artist in society, the Russia vs. the West controversy, the myth of St. Petersburg, the superfluous man, the "woman question." All readings in translation, with special assignments for those able to read in Russian. First semester. Visiting Professor Kunichika.