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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.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

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.

2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

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.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

202 Second-Year Russian II

Continuation of RUSS 201.

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

2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, 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.

Spring semester. Professor Ciepiela.

2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2013

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. 

 

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014

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.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

225 Seminar on One Writer: Vladimir Nabokov

An attentive reading of works spanning Nabokov’s entire career, both as a Russian and English (or “Amero-Russian”) author, including autobiographical and critical writings, as well as his fiction and poetry. Special attention will be given to Nabokov’s lifelong meditation on the elusiveness of experienced time and on writing’s role as a supplement to loss and absence. Students will be encouraged to compare Nabokov’s many dramatizations of “invented worlds” and to consider them along with other Russian and Western texts, fictional and philosophical, that explore the mind’s defenses against exile and separation. All readings in English translation, with special assignments for those able to read Russian. One meetings per week.

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

 

2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2013

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.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

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 2015-16. Professor Wolfson.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2015

241 Russian and Soviet Film

(Offered as RUSS 241 and FAMS 328.)  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.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Fall 2012

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.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

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. Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

2015-16: Not offered
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. 

2015-16: 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.

2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015

311 Birth of the Avant-Garde: Modern Poetry and Culture in France and Russia, 1870-1930

(Offered as EUST 311, FREN 364, and RUSS 311.) Between the mid-nineteenth century and the mid-twentieth century, poetry was revolutionized both in France and in Russia; nowhere else did the avant-garde proliferate more extravagantly. This class will focus on the key period in the emergence of literary modernity that began with Symbolism and culminated with Surrealism and Constructivism.With the advent of modernism, the poem became a “global phenomenon” that circulated among different languages and different cultures, part of a process of cross-fertilization. An increasingly hybrid genre, avant-garde poetry went beyond its own boundaries by drawing into itself prose writing, philosophy, music, and the visual and performing arts. The relation between the artistic and the literary avant-garde will be an essential concern.We will be reading Baudelaire, Rimbaud and the French Symbolists; the Russian Symbolists (Blok, Bely); Nietzsche; Apollinaire, Dada, and the Surrealists (Breton, Eluard, Desnos); and the Russian avant-garde poets (Mayakovsky, Khlebnikov, Tsvetaeva).Our study of the arts will include Symbolism (Moreau, Redon); Fauvism (Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck); Cubism, Dada, and early Surrealism (Duchamp, Ernst, Dali, Artaud); the “World of Art” movement (Bakst, the Ballets Russes); Primitivism (Goncharova, Larionov); Suprematism (Malevich); and Constructivism (Tatlin, Rodchenko, El Lissitzky). The course will be taught in English. Students who read fluently in French and/or Russian will be encouraged to read the material in the original language.

Omitted 2015-16.  Professors Ciepiela and L. Katsaros.

2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2010, Spring 2014

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.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

490 Special Topics

Independent Reading Course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015 and Spring 2016
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

498, 499 Senior Departmental Honors

Meetings to be arranged.

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

2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

Related Courses

POSC-475 Personality and International Politics: Gorbachev, the End of the Cold War and the Collapse of the Soviet Union (Course not offered this year.)
 

Webster Hall