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Amherst College Russian for 2015-16

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. Five College Lecturer Dengub.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

102 First-Year Russian II

Continuation of RUSS 101.

Requisite: RUSS 101 or equivalent. Limited to 15 students per section. Spring semester. Five College Lecturer Dengub.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

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 2 to 3 years of high school Russian. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Ciepiela.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

202 Second-Year Russian II

Continuation of RUSS 201.

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

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

211 The Rise of the Russian Novel

How and why did Russian culture produce world-famous fiction in the first half of the nineteenth century? This course traces the evolution of innovative narrative forms in Russian story-telling from Pushkin's novel-in-verse, Eugene Onegin, to the early works of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. We shall pay particular attention to the characteristic Russian mimicry and parody of Western literary conventions in the short stories of Pushkin and Gogol before examining the experimental novel-length fiction of Lermontov (A Hero of Our Time) and Turgenev (Fathers and Sons). The course also introduces important lesser-known writers like Pavlova, Aksakov, and Leskov who contributed greatly to the rise of a distinctive Russian prose tradition. Readings in translation, with special assignments for those able to do reading in Russian.

Omitted 2015-16.

2014-15: Not offered

212 Survey of Russian Literature From Dostoevsky to Nabokov

An examination of major Russian writers and literary trends from about 1860 to the Bolshevik Revolution as well as a sampling of Russian émigré literature through a reading of representative novels, stories, and plays in translation. Readings include important works by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gorky, Sologub, Bely, and Nabokov. The evaluation of recurring themes such as the breakdown of the family, the “woman question,” madness, attitudes toward the city, childhood and perception of youth. Conducted in English.

Spring semester. Professor Rabinowitz.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

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.

2014-15: 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 2015-16. Professor Wolfson.

2014-15: 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.

Fall semester. Professor Rabinowitz.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

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. Two meetings per week.

Omitted 2015-16.

 

2014-15: Not offered
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.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, 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 2015-16. Professor Wolfson.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2016

229 Chekhov and His Theater

(Offered as RUSS 229 and THDA 229). Anton Chekhov's reputation rests as much on his dramaturgy as on his fiction. His plays, whose staging by the Moscow Art Theater helped revolutionize Russian and world theater, endure in the modern repertoire. In this course, we will study his dramatic oeuvre in its cultural and historical context, drawing on the biographical and critical literature on Chekhov, printed and visual materials concerning the late nineteenth-century European theater, and the writings of figures like Constantin Stanislavsky, who developed a new acting method in response to Chekhov's art. We also will examine key moments in the production history of Chekhov's plays in Russian, English, and American theater and film.

Omitted 2014-15.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2014

232 Russian Lives

This course approaches pre-revolutionary Russian cultural history by attending to how key social actors have been represented.  We will study the lives of tsar, saint, aristocrat, peasant, poet, intellectual, revolutionary, merchant and exile as represented in letters, memoirs, fiction, verse, painting and performance.  Examples of life-writing will include seventeenth-century archpriest Avvakum’s “autobiography” (the first example of the genre in Russia), revolutionary Alexander Herzen’s My Life and Thoughts (alongside Tom Stoppard’s renovation of his story as a recently staged trilogy of plays, Coast of Utopia), the memoirs of women terrorists, and the testimonial of a nineteenth-century serf.  Alongside these we will consider fictional and operatic representations such as Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time, Turgenev's Fathers and Sons, Goncharov's Oblomov and Glinka's A Life for the Czar. No acquaintance with Russian language or culture is assumed.

Omitted 2015-16.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Fall 2013

234 The Soviet Experience

(Offered as RUSS 234 and FAMS 313.)  With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the great utopian experiment of the 20th century–a radical attempt to reorganize society in accordance with rational principles–came to an end.  This course explores the dramatic history of that experiment from the perspective of those whose lives were deeply affected by the social upheavals it brought about.  We begin by examining the early visions of the new social order and attempts to restructure the living practices of the Soviet citizens by reshaping the concepts of time, space, family, and, ultimately, redefining the meaning of being human.  We then look at how “the new human being” of the 1920s is transformed into the “new Soviet person” of the Stalinist society, focusing on the central cultural and ideological myths of Stalinism and their place in everyday life, especially as they relate to the experience of state terror and war.  Finally, we investigate the notion of “life after Stalin,” and consider the role of already familiar utopian motifs in the development of post-Stalinist and post-Soviet ways of imagining self, culture, and society.  The course uses a variety of materials–from primary documents, public or official (architectural and theatrical designs, political propaganda, transcripts of trials, government meetings, and interrogations) and intimate (diaries and letters), to works of art (novels, films, stage productions, paintings), documentary accounts (on film and in print), and contemporary scholarship (from the fields of literary and cultural studies, history and anthropology).  No previous knowledge of Soviet or Russian history or culture is required; course conducted in English, and all readings are in translation.  Students who read Russian will be given special assignments.

Limited to 20 students.  Omitted 2015-16.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2013

241 Russian and Soviet Film

(Offered as RUSS 241 and FAMS 321.)  Lenin declared “For us, cinema is the most important art,” and the young Bolshevik regime threw its support behind a brilliant group of film pioneers (Eisenstein, Vertov, Kuleshov, Pudovkin, Dovzhenko) who worked out the fundamentals of film language. Under Stalin, historical epics and musical comedies, not unlike those produced in 1930s Hollywood, became the favored genres. The innovative Soviet directors of the 1960s and 1970s (Tarkovsky, Parajanov, Abuladze, Muratova) moved away from politics and even narrative toward “film poetry.” Post-Soviet Russian cinema has struggled to define a new identity, and may finally be succeeding. This course will introduce the student to the great Russian and Soviet film tradition. Conducted in English. Two class meetings and one or two required screenings a week.

Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Wolfson.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Fall 2012

244 Histories of Performance in 20th-Century Russia

(Offered as RUSS 244 and ARHA 244.) This course will explore the various trajectories of “performance” in Russia throughout the twentieth century. The medium of performance was central to several crucial episodes in the history of Russian visual art, including Futurism, World of Art, Moscow Conceptualism, Sots Art, and Moscow Actionism. Russian performance art developed alongside achievements in the adjacent modes of dance, theater, and music. Yet, performance was also a significant phenomenon within Russian culture more broadly. Event-based artworks often responded to the performative elements of political rituals, acts of self-fashioning, mass spectacles, underground economic transactions, speech acts, and bureaucratic operations taking place in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Class participants will employ an expanded view of performance as we attempt to reconcile the intersecting meanings of the genre as an artistic practice, a social behavior, and a political strategy. In doing so, we will put pressure on established ideas about spectatorship, presence, dematerialization, participation, identity, and spectacle as they pertain to modern art. Artistic practices will be framed by readings drawn from the fields of art history, cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, and performance studies. No acquaintance with Russian language or culture is assumed.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Maydanchik.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016

245 Art and Politics in Russia, 1860 to the Present

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(Offered as ARHA 245 and RUSS 245) 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 & 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.

Fall semester.  Visiting Professor Maidanchik.

 

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015

246 Visual Art of the Cold War

This course will offer a comparative overview of how visual art developed in the Soviet Union, the United States, and the “two Germanys” within the intellectual and political climate that defined the Cold War (1947-1991). By considering how the conditions of artistic production and reception differed—and also sometimes converged—under democratic capitalism in the West and state socialism in the East, we will gain new perspectives on the intersection of art and ideology in the postwar period. Special attention will be given to debates concerning the relationships between collectivity and individuality; avant-gardism and kitsch; abstraction and realism; technology and the body; art and mass media; propaganda and activism; and consumption and leisure. We will conclude by discussing how the acceleration of globalization following the end of the Cold War has impacted recent art practice. Movements and paradigms to be covered include Socialist Realism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Sots Art, Fluxus, Situationism, Conceptual Art, Performance Art, Body Art, and Institutional Critique.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016

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.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, 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.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

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. Fall semester. Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

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.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

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.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2010, Spring 2014

314 Modern Russian Poetry in Translation: Text, Image, Sound

Poetry remains a vital area of creativity in contemporary Russia, extending the achievements of twentieth-century greats like Marina Tsvetaeva, Osip Mandelshtam, Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak and Joseph Brodsky.  We will study the efforts of Russian poets over the past one hundred years to invigorate and enrich their poetic languages as they have engaged with other modes of creativity – film, visual art, performance, photography – and changing historical circumstances.  A central question we will ask:  To what extent are these shifts of form prompted by the search for a social self?  By new exposure to international poetry?  Alongside the poets’ verse, we will read their critical and autobiographical prose, view their work in other media (Tarkovsky’s film “The Mirror,” performances of Pasternak’s translation of “Hamlet”), and consider their portraiture and mythologies.  All readings will be in English translation, and the dynamics of translation will be an ongoing topic of discussion.  Assignments will include creative projects and in-class student presentations.  Special assignments will be given to students able to read Russian. 

Omitted 2015-16.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in 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.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

490 Special Topics

Independent Reading Course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015
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 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.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015
 

Webster Hall