Paper #8

Due:  Wednesday, November 12 at 4:00 pm

In Kuraev's "Captain Dikstein," the narrator presents himself as a kind of historian, flooding the story with historical details.  Using and citing the sources you consulted for Assignment #8, write 3-4 pages about whether and how your research helped you understand the story.

You may email me your paper or leave it at my office in Webster 209.  In either case, please attach your completed Assignment #8.

Assignment #8

Give one paragraph of information in response to each question. Please bring your completed assignment to class on Thursday.

Paper #7

Due:  Friday, October 31 by 5:00

Make revisions to your paper on Pritchett's introduction to "The Golovlyov Family."  Follow the same instructions you followed for the original paper, that is, stay focussed on the assigned topic and do not expand your paper beyond the page limit.

Don't assume that you must make large changes to your paper.  The point is to study your work to determine whether and how you might improve the coherence and appeal of your presentation.

Please also supply a brief description of the changes you have made to your paper.  A few sentences will suffice.  It will be helpful for me to know your reasoning, especially if you chose to make few or small changes.

You will find very helpful suggestions about how to make these decisions at the sites listed on the Writing Center's webpage:

The first two sites, especially, provide clear and succinct advice.  I would recommend you start by printing out a hard copy of your paper and trying to read it as though someone else had written it.  Are your points clear?  Are there too many of them?  Do you simply list them one after another, or have you attempted to prioritize them and relate them to one another?  One way to track how your paper flows is to write an outline of it after the fact.  Seeing the paper's skeleton may help you decide whether and how to add or delete certain points, or to reorder them.  Don't be afraid to toss out some of your writing, if necessary; you can always write more!

Note:  Hand in your original paper (as commented on by me) and your revised paper together at my office (Webster 209).

Paper Topic #6

Due: Friday, October 17               

Write 3-4 pages on the following topic:

Read the introduction to The Golovlyov Family by V. S. Pritchett, the noted English essayist.  (You will find a pdf of his introduction below.)  Do you find his introduction commensurate to the novel?  Do you agree with and admire his interpretation of the novel?  (If you do, a way to show this is to pick out memorable and apt sentences.)  Are there aspects to his reading that you find wrong or distorted?  What themes or formal attributes of the novel does he leave unremarked?  His approach depends on comparisons between Russia and England: is that useful?  Do comparisons to US culture come to your mind?

The trick in this response to Pritchett is to find the right tone.  Your task is to write evaluatively, but that can be hard to do without falling into harsh and usually unproductive polemic.  I do not assume that you will necessarily like or dislike Pritchett's introduction, but I do want you to take a position on whether he succeeds in capturing what you most value in the novel.

Instead of writing an evaluation of Pritchett, you can write your own 3-4 pp. introduction.  If you choose this option, then use the added commentary to explain why you did so, and what in particular you were trying to accomplish.

Paper Topic #5

Due:  Tuesday, October 7 (in class)

Choose a passage -- it can be a few sentences or a whole paragraph -- that seems to you to capture the essence of one of our bizarre characters.  (You may choose a character from any of the readings we have done.)  I'm interested in having you practice selecting and using quotations.  Many writers tend to introduce quotations and then drop them without sufficient commentary.  Use this opportunity to make the most of your quotation, analyzing it carefully and letting it guide your discussion of the character.

Write one page of analysis.  Provide your selected passage on a separate sheet.


Paper Topic #4

Due: Monday, September 29, 4:00 p.m. at my office (Webster 209)

This is more of an exercise than an essay.  It asks that you experiment with a kind of dynamic in writing and thinking, and that you try out some different kinds of sentences.

Write one page that responds to one of the stories we read in this section of the course (by Odoevsky, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Nabokov, or Bitov).  Structure your response as a two-step sequence:  in the first paragraph describe and analyze a first impression of the text; in the second, give an account of how you came to change your mind about that first impression.  The cause of the change can be any number of things, including a conversation with a friend, something someone said in our class discussion, your own rereading of the text, or even an experience otherwise unrelated to our class.

In your two paragraphs, write at least one sentence that uses a colon (:); one that uses a semi-colon (;); and one that uses a dependent clause (like "Having finished my reading, I turned to my roommate and started to laugh").  If this inspires you to experiment with other kinds of sentences, feel free!

You may want to attach a brief explanation or query to your paper.  It could be the occasion to tell me that you still aren't sure about colons and semi-colons, or that you found it nearly impossible to change your mind about the reading.

Paper Topic #3

Due:  Friday, Sept. 19 by 4:00

Ivan Fliagin may be the strangest monk we've yet encountered in our readings in Russian religiosity.  Write two pages discussing whether he shares beliefs, behaviors, or experiences with the other "holy people" we've read about -- Rublev, the Holy Fool, Lukerya, Father Sergius.  You may refer to several of these characters or focus your comparison on one.

Paper Topic #2

Due:  Tuesday, September 9

Write 2 double-spaced pages discussing what the stills below capture about the qualities and/or themes of the film "Andrei Rublev."  Don't assume you need to make conclusive statements but feel free to talk about what you found challenging, obscure, or pleasurable about the film.