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Amherst College Russian for 2016-17

101 First-Year Russian I

Introduction to the contemporary Russian language, presenting the fundamentals of Russian grammar and syntax. The course helps the student make balanced progress in listening comprehension, speaking, reading, writing, and cultural competence. Five meetings per week. 

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

102 First-Year Russian II

Continuation of RUSS 101.

Requisite: RUSS 101 or equivalent. Limited to 15 students per section. Spring semester.  Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

103 Russian Literacy for Russian Speakers

This course is designed for students with substantial fluency in speaking and comprehending conversational Russian but limited training in writing and reading the language. We will focus on building the students’ literacy in written Russian through readings in classical literary texts and contemporary media; analysis and application of key grammatical categories; and frequent writing exercises that will build the students’ ability to express their thoughts and interpret artifacts of Russian culture. 

Admission with consent of the instructor.  Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Wolfson.

2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017

201 Second-Year Russian I

This course stresses vocabulary building and continued development of speaking and listening skills. Active command of Russian grammar is steadily increased. Readings from authentic materials in fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Brief composition assignments. Five meetings per week, including a conversation hour and a drill session.

Requisite: RUSS 102 or the equivalent. This will ordinarily be the appropriate course placement for students with two to three years of high school Russian. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Ciepiela.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

202 Second-Year Russian II

Continuation of RUSS 201.

Requisite: RUSS 201 or equivalent. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Ciepiela.

2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

212 Love and Death: the Big Questions of Russian Literature

Who is to blame?  What is to be done?  How can we love, and how should we die?  In an age when such larger-than-life questions animated urgent debates about self and society, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anton Chekhov and other writers whose famous shorter works we’ll read in this course reinvented the idea of literature itself.  Political terrorism and non-violent resistance, women’s rights and imperial expansion, quests for social justice and personal happiness:  as nineteenth-century Russian authors explored the cultural anxieties provoked by these challenges of modernity, their ambition was not to mirror experience but to transform it by interpreting its deepest secrets.  This is an introduction to the daring, contradictory visions of life and art that forever changed how we do things with words.  No familiarity with of Russian history or culture expected.  All readings in English.

Spring semester. Professor Wolfson.

2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

213 Century of Catastrophe:  Soviet and Contemporary Russia in Literature and Film

Russia was launched on a unique path by the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917: it was intended to become the first Communist society in history.  The Cultural Revolution that followed sought to remake institutions and even persons in the name of realizing a classless society.  This utopian project came up against the actual history of the twentieth century not just in Russia but internationally:  world wars, the collapse of empires, and the victory of “capitalism” over “communism.”  Much of the best Russian literature and film of the twentieth century addresses the tensions of this historical period.  We will trace these tensions in landmark texts, grouping them around particular moments of catastrophic change – the Revolution, the Civil War, the “internationalizing” of non-Russian peoples, collectivization and famine, Stalin’s purges, World War II and the siege of Leningrad, urbanization, and the collapse of the Soviet empire.  We will consider, among other texts, Esther Shub’s “The Fall of the Romanovs,” Isaak Babel’s Red Cavalry, Nadezhda Mandelstam’s Hope Against Hope, the poetry of Anna Akhmatova, Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate, Lydia Ginzburg’s Blockade Diary, Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Stalker,” Alexander Sokurov’s “Russian Ark,” and the installation art of Ilya Kabakov.  All readings and discussion in English.  No familiarity with Russian history and culture is assumed. Three meetings per week.

Omitted 2016-17. Professor Ciepiela.

2016-17: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2013, Spring 2016

215 Modernism and Revolution

(Offered as RUSS 215 and EUST 215.) We will examine the revolutionary upheavals of early twentieth-century Russia through the lens of three modernist texts:  Andrei Bely’s experimental novel Petersburg (the failed revolution of 1905), Isaac Babel’s story cycle Red Cavalry (the civil war that followed the Bolshevik takeover in 1917) and Mikhail Bulgakov’s phantasmagorical masterpiece The Master and Margarita (the “cultural revolution” of 1929-32 and the rise of Stalinist society).  Reshaped by the crises that they confronted in their works, these Russian writers reached beyond literature – to the images, sounds and ideas of their Russian and European contemporaries – to reimagine the place of artistic innovation and esthetic tradition in times of trouble, and so revolutionized the very idea of what literature can do in negotiating the relationship between text and experience.  All readings and discussion in English.  No familiarity with Russian history or culture is assumed. 

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2016-17. Fall semester.

 

2016-17: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014

216 Creativity and Revolution

The three decades from 1890 through 1920 marked a time when Russia’s future was being radically reimagined, politically and culturally.  We will study creative revolution in the arts--in literature, painting, theater and dance, and the new medium of cinema--as participating in shaping a national vision, even as Russian artists absorbed and engaged with international models.  We also will study reverberations of this period in later Soviet culture, such as absurdist theater, underground art and the poetic revival of the 60s and 70s. This course is taught in English and no familiarity with Russian language and culture is assumed.

Spring semester.  Professor Ciepiela.

2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017

217 Strange Russian Writers: Gogol, Dostoevsky, Bulgakov, Nabokov, et al

A course that examines the stories and novels of rebels, deviants, dissidents, loners, and losers in some of the weirdest fictions in Russian literature. The writers, most of whom imagine themselves to be every bit as bizarre as their heroes, include from the nineteenth century: Gogol (“Viy,” “Diary of a Madman,” “Ivan Shponka and His Aunt,” “The Nose,” “The Overcoat”); Dostoevsky (“The Double,” “A Gentle Creature,” “Bobok,” “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man”); Tolstoy (“The Kreutzer Sonata,” “Father Sergius”), and from the twentieth century: Olesha (Envy); Platonov (The Foundation Pit); Kharms’ (Stories); Bulgakov (The Master and Margarita); Nabokov (The Eye, Despair); Erofeev (Moscow Circles); Pelevin (“The Yellow Arrow”). Our goal will be less to construct a canon of strangeness than to consider closely how estranged women, men, animals, and objects become the center of narrative attention and, in doing so, reflect the writer Tatyana Tolstaya’s claim that “Russia is broader and more diverse, stranger and more contradictory than any idea of it. It resists all theories about what makes it tick, confounds all the paths to its possible transformation.” All readings in English translation.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 35 students. Fall semester. Professor Rabinowitz.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

225 Vladimir Nabokov and the Writing of Exile

(Offered as RUSS 225, ENGL 315, and EUST 228.)  Nabokov made his literary career after leaving Russia, and he is essentially a writer of exile.  We will consider what that means for understanding his work:  how does longing for one's lost place, language, culture, and identity influence authorial choices? This course will explore various periods in Nabokov's creative biography (both the "Russian" and the "English" eras) and genres (novels, including Lolita and Pnin; poetry; and literary criticism). In addition, we will consider works by various writers (Ivan Bunin, Nadezhda Teffi, and Vladislav Khodasevich, to name a few) who influenced Nabokov’s writings on exile, as well as those who were influenced by him, notably Joseph Brodsky and Orhan Pamuk. All readings in English; no familiarity with Russian literature or culture expected.

Limited to 20 students.  Not open to first year students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Barskova.

2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017

227 Fyodor Dostoevsky

Among the many paradoxes Dostoevsky presents is the paradox of his own achievement. Perceived as the most “Russian” of Russian writers, he finds many enthusiastic readers in the West. A nineteenth-century author, urgently engaged in the debates of his time, his work remains relevant today. The most influential theorists of the novel feel called upon to account for the Dostoevsky phenomenon. How can we understand Dostoevsky’s appeal to so many audiences? This broad question will inform our reading of Dostoevsky’s fiction, as we consider its social-critical, metaphysical, psychological, and formal significance. We will begin with several early works (“Notes from Underground,” “The Double”) whose concerns persist and develop in the great novels that are the focus of the course: Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov. All readings and discussion in English. Conducted as a seminar. Two class meetings per week.

Fall semester.  Professor Ciepiela.

2016-17: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

228 Tolstoy

Count Leo Tolstoy’s life and writings encompass self-contradictions equaled in scale only by the immensity of his talent: the aristocrat who renounced his wealth, the former army officer who preached nonresistance to evil, the father of thirteen children who advocated total chastity within marriage and, of course, the writer of titanic stature who repudiated all he had previously written, including War and Peace and Anna Karenina. We will read these two masterworks in depth, along with other fictional and non-fictional writings ("The History of Yesterday," Childhood, Strider, Confession, Sebastopol Stories, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, "What Is Art?"), as we explore his abiding search for the meaning of ever-inaccessible "self," his far-reaching artistic innovations, and his evolving views on history, the family, war, death, religion, art, and education. Conducted in English, all readings in translation, with special assignments for students who read Russian. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2016-17. Professor Wolfson.

2016-17: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2015

235 Stalin and Stalinism

(Offered as HIST 235 [EU], EUST 245, and RUSS 235). Joseph Stalin, the infamous Soviet dictator, created a particular type of society in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. Stalinism became a phenomenon that influenced the development of the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, and North Korea. The course will begin with the exploration of Stalin’s own life, and then focus on what historical forces enabled the emergence of Stalinism. The course will cover the period on the eve of and during the Russian Revolution, Stalinist transformation of the USSR in the 1930s, WWII, and the onset of the Cold War.  Among issues to be explored are the extent of popular support for Stalinist-type regimes, the mechanisms of large-scale political terror, the longevity of Stalinist regimes, and historical memory about Stalinism. Three class meetings per week.

Fall semester. Five College Professor Glebov.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014

240 The Last Russian Revolution: State and Society from the Late Soviet Period to the Present

(Offered as HIST 240 [EU], EUST 240, and RUSS 240.) This course explores the tumultuous and unprecedented transition from the late Soviet Communism to contemporary Russian Federation. We will discuss the state of the Soviet Union on the eve of dissolution and politics of nationalism; emergence of the post-Soviet states and divergence in their historical development; transition to capitalism and privatization; challenges of federalism and regionalism in post-Soviet Russia; relations between the Russian Federation and “Near Abroad,” NATO and China, and the social and cultural developments from the late Soviet period to the early twenty-first century.  The class will also explore the historical evolution of the phenomenon of Putinism as rooted in long-term transformation of the former Soviet space. Two class meetings per week.

Spring semester.  Five College Professor Glebov.

2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017

241 Russian and Soviet Film

(Offered as RUSS 241 and FAMS 329.)  Lenin proclaimed, famously, that cinema was "the most important art of all" for the new Soviet republic.  This course explores the dramatic rise of Russian film to state-sanctioned prominence and the complex role it came to play in modern Russia's cultural history.  We examine the radical experiments of visionary filmmakers who invented the language of film art (Bauer, Kuleshov, Eisenstein, Vertov, Dovzhenko); the self-conscious masterpieces of auteurs who probed the limits of that language (Tarkovsky, Paradzhanov, Sokurov); and the surprising ways in which films ostensibly designed to enact cultural and social myths of power, history, and national identity in the end reshaped their makers, their audiences, and the myths themselves. No familiarity with of Russian history or culture expected.

Fall semester.  Professor Wolfson.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Fall 2012

245 Art and Politics in Russia, 1860 to the Present

(Offered as RUSS 245, ARHA 245, and EUST 255.) The interchange between art and politics has long been a focal point of Russian cultural production. This course will survey the dynamic relationship between aesthetic innovation and political transformation in Russia from 1860 to the present. In doing so, it will cultivate appreciation of a wide range of artistic achievements originating in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Class members will employ a comparative approach to explore how various Russian artists responded to changing local circumstances, while also positioning themselves in relation or opposition to significant socio-political events occurring in Western Europe and America. Special attention will be devoted to considering how Russian artists engaged themes that are central to the study of aesthetics and politics worldwide, including artistic autonomy; participation and collaboration; the relationship between art and life; abstraction and representation; mass media and popular culture; commodification and institutionalization; and avant-gardism. Individuals and groups to be discussed include the Wanderers, the Russian Futurists, the Russian Constructivists, Ilya Kabakov, Komar and Melamid, the Moscow Actionists, and Pussy Riot. Assigned readings will be complemented by visits to the Mead Art Museum. No acquaintance with Russian language or culture is assumed.

Omitted 2016-17. 

 

2016-17: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015

301 Third-Year Russian: Studies in Russian Language and Culture I

This course advances skills in reading, understanding, writing, and speaking Russian, with materials from twentieth-century culture. Readings include fiction by Chekhov, Babel, Olesha, Nabokov, and others. Conducted in Russian, with frequent writing and grammar assignments, in-class presentations, and occasional translation exercises. Two seminar-style meetings and one hour-long discussion section per week.

Requisite: RUSS 202 or consent of instructor. First-year students with strong high school preparation (usually 4 or more years) may be ready for this course. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Rabinowitz and Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

302 Third-Year Russian: Studies in Russian Language and Culture II

We will be reading, in the original Russian, works of fiction, poetry and criticism by nineteenth-century authors such as Pushkin, Tolstoy, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Turgenev and Chekhov. Conducted in Russian, with frequent writing and translation assignments.

Requisite: RUSS 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester.  Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

303H Advanced Conversation and Composition

A half course designed for advanced students of Russian who wish to develop their fluency, pronunciation, oral comprehension, and writing skills. Major attention will be given to reading, discussion and interpretation of current Russian journalistic literature. This course will cover several basic subjects, including the situation of the Russian media, domestic and international politics, culture, and everyday life in Russia. Two hours per week.

Requisite: RUSS 302 or consent of the instructor.  Omitted 2016-17.  Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

2016-17: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

304H Advanced Intermediate Conversation and Composition

A half course designed for intermediate-level students who wish to develop their fluency, pronunciation, oral comprehension, and writing skills. We will study and discuss Russian films of various genres. Two hours per week.

Requisite: RUSS 301 or consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

2016-17: Offered in Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

401 Advanced Studies in Russian Literature and Culture I

The topic changes every year. Taught entirely in Russian. Two class meetings per week.

Fall semester. Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

490 Special Topics

Independent Reading Course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

498, 499 Senior Departmental Honors

Meetings to be arranged.

Open to, and required of, seniors writing a thesis. Fall semester. The Department.

2016-17: Offered in Fall 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

Related Courses

HIST-232 European Intellectual History in the Twentieth Century (Course not offered this year.)
HIST-236 Soviet Union During the Cold War (Course not offered this year.)
HIST-439 Defining the Modern: Russia Between Tsars and Communists (Course not offered this year.)