Russian

2024-25

103 Accelerated First-Year Russian

Accelerated introduction to the contemporary Russian language, presenting the fundamentals of Russian grammar and syntax. Equivalent to both semesters of First-Year Russian. The course helps the students make balanced progress in listening comprehension, speaking, reading, writing, and cultural competence. Three meetings per week. Offered Spring Semester. Instructor TBD.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2024

111 Understanding Russia

This introduction to Russian culture and history examines Russia’s vast and varied contributions to world culture, from literature and the arts to intellectual and political history. Setting aside cultural commonplaces about Russia—from borscht to nesting dolls and vodka—and various clichés of Russia as some enigmatic, reason-defying civilization, this course considers Russia’s ongoing development as it responds to the world and fashions its own forms of art, culture, and thought. The course will survey Russian culture and history from the early eighteenth century to the present, a broad span of time in which we see periods of upheaval and change to which its writers, artists, and intellectuals gave artistic and intellectual expression. We will be guided throughout the course by such questions as: How has Russia imagined its place in the world and in world culture? How has it responded to developments from abroad in fashioning its own culture? What is distinctive about Russia’s literary, visual, and performing styles? What can Russian cultural history tell us about the ways people experience, negotiate, and navigate multiple identities in a single polity stretching from Germany to Alaska? About class and gender politics?

This course will draw upon the rich holdings of the Amherst Center for Russian Culture and the Mead Art Museum, which, together, form a premier teaching and research collection of Russia’s culture history in the West. Each module of the course will, for example, focus upon an archival, verbal, or visual artifact held in these collections, using it as a springboard to consider broader themes of Russian culture and history. 

Spring Semester. Professor Mayofis.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2023, Spring 2024

237 Soviet Union During the Cold War

Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Spring 2023

345 Sergei Eisenstein's Cinema and Thought

(Offered as RUSS 345 and FAMS 357) This course focuses on Sergei Eisenstein (1989-1948), whose seminal works in the history and theory of cinema are the subject of our sustained examination. As Eisenstein postulated in 1939, "the method of cinema, when fully comprehended, will enable us to reveal an understanding of the method of art in general." In our effort to comprehend his work and enduring relevance, we will consider Eisenstein's stylistics through attentive viewing of his key films: Strike, Battleship Potemkin, October, Old and New, the never completed ¡Que viva México!, Alexander Nevsky, and Ivan the Terrible. Along with examining their formal features and rich historical and ideological contexts, we will also consider Eisenstein's theoretical texts on cinema and culture, attending in particular to his theories of montage, method, and his writings on the histories of literature and art. The course aims to situate his work within the broad aesthetic, philosophical, and political currents of his time, which he reflected upon in his work, and to which he, a quintessential modernist, made his distinctive and influential contributions. No familiarity with Russian history or culture expected. All readings in English.

Omitted 24-25. Professor Kunichika.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2019

Russian Language Courses

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 12 students. Fall semester. Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

102 First-Year Russian II

Continuation of RUSS 101.

Requisite: RUSS 101 or equivalent. Limited to 12 students per section. Spring semester. Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

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 12 students. Fall semester. Professor Mayofis.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

202 Second-Year Russian II

Continuation of RUSS 201.

Requisite: RUSS 201 or equivalent. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Ciepiela.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

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 the instructor. First-year students with strong high school preparation (usually 4 or more years) may be ready for this course. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Professor Ciepiela.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

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 12 students. Spring Semester. Professor Wolfson.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

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. Offered Spring Semester. Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

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.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

Non-Language Russian Courses

122 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 Russian history or culture expected. All readings in English.

Spring Semester. Professor Wolfson. 

Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

123 Century of Catastrophe: Soviet and Contemporary Russia in Writing 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 transform all social arrangements and institutions, even human beings themselves. This utopian project came up against twentieth-century realities not just in Russia but internationally (World Wars I and II, and the Cold War competition between capitalism and socialism). Much of the best Russian literature and film of the twentieth century addresses the social traumas of the era. We will study landmark works of poetry, film, fiction and documentation which address particular moments of catastrophic change – the Revolution, the “internationalizing” of non-Russian peoples, collectivization and famine, Stalin’s purges, World War II and the siege of Leningrad, ecological disaster, and the collapse of the Soviet empire and transformation of Russia into a “capitalist” society. All readings and discussion in English. No familiarity with Russian history and culture is assumed.

Omitted 2024-25. Professor Ciepiela.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2013, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020

215 Modernism and Revolution

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 discussions in English. No familiarity with Russian history or culture is assumed.

Omitted 20224-25. Professor Wolfson. 

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Spring 2020

225 Vladimir Nabokov’s Double Exile

(Offered as RUSS 225 and ENGL 315) This course looks at the fiction and career of Vladimir Nabokov, a trilingual fiction writer of genius and a sophisticated self-promoter. As a liberal aristocrat living in exile in Berlin and Paris during the 1920s and 1930s, the young Nabokov was hailed as the hope of an entire generation of émigrés – artists and writers forced out of their homeland following the Russian Revolution. We first examine this European career in its publishing and media contexts, including his writing for translation into German, French, and English and for adaptation into screenplays for silent and early sound cinema. We then track to his move to America and discover how a transnational career is crafted. Modernist fiction of this period was shadowed and overshadowed by a burgeoning film industry: we will watch a number of great movies from the silent and early sound era, including some of the masterpieces of Weimar cinema by the directors who would go on to create film noir in Hollywood. We will focus on a range of Nabokov’s darkly comic novels: The Luzhin Defense, Laughter in the Dark, Invitation to a Beheading, Lolita, Pnin, and Pale Fire. During the course we will learn through Nabokov’s fiction to appreciate the subtleties of irony, voice, and parody; to think more deeply about the relation between history and culture (how do events engender works of art?); and to study the interaction between literature and visual culture. All readings in English.  

Omitted 2024-25. Professor Kunichika.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, January 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Fall 2023

227 Fyodor Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novels remain relevant to readers across the globe for their daring critique of modernity. A journalist himself, he took his material from the newspapers – stories of crime, corruption, poverty, addiction, terrorism, politics – and mined it for existential meaning. He also drew on his own difficult experience as a political prisoner who spent a decade in Siberia, an eternal debtor, and an incurable epileptic. In this course we will study Dostoevsky’s fiction and journalistic writings, alongside reactions to his work from international thinkers (Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche), writers (D.H. Lawrence, Richard Wright, David Foster Wallace) and filmmakers (Alexander Sokurov, Robert Bresson). We will begin with several early works (“Notes from Underground,” “The Double,” House of the Dead) whose concerns persist and develop in the novels that are the focus of the course: Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. All readings and discussions in English.

Spring semester. Professor Ciepiela. 

Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2019, Fall 2023

241 Russian and Soviet Film

(Offered as RUSS 241 and FAMS 341) 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. Two 80-minute meetings a week. 

Omitted 2024-25. Professor Kunichika.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2016, Spring 2024

245 Identity and Ideology: The Cinema of Moscow, Berlin, and Hollywood

(Offered as RUSS 245, EUST 245 and FAMS 245). Are our screens really windows through which we glimpse other worlds? Or just mirrors reflecting our own preconceptions? Are they doors through which we enter new experiences? Or cheap frames for prepackaged content? The power of visual media to emancipate its users – or trap them – was first recognized in the cinema, from the earliest silents to the flourishing of classical sound film. Film has always been the great art of exile, produced by immigrants and cosmopolitans facilitating the circulation of images, identities and ideologies. Yet it was also the battleground of competing visions of modernity, from Hollywood’s exported Americanism to Soviet political and artistic utopias, to Nazi promises of national renewal. In this course we focus on the interactions between Soviet, German, and American cinemas in the first half of the twentieth century as a way of understanding visual media’s power to shape identity and circulate ideology. We will look not only at questions of propaganda and censorship, but also at mediation, circulation, and exchange, as well as the crucial skills of (self-)translation and adaptation. Key figures include Grigory Alexandrov, Boris Barnet, Bertolt Brecht, Louise Brooks, Marlene Dietrich, Sergei Eisenstein, Greta Garbo, Piel Jutzi, Lev Kuleshov, Fedor Otsep, G.W. Pabst, Anna Sten, and Josef von Sternberg. No previous background or language knowledge required – all films with English subtitles. 

Omitted 2024-25. Professor Parker.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2016, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

249 Illustrated Exile: Image, Film and Fiction in Russian Paris

(Offered as RUSS 249 and EUST 249) Amid a new wave of Russian émigrés across Europe, this course looks at the remarkable stories of the First Wave of Russians in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. In their film, fiction and photo shoots, these cultural entrepreneurs managed to construct a modern identity in exile, demonstrating remarkable skills of self-adaptation and assimilation. We will read newly translated fiction from young female authors like Nina Berberova and Irina Odoevtseva, examine the commercial phenomenon of French-language author Irène Némirovsky, and the inventions and observations of taxi driver Gaito Gazdanov. We will watch the films of the Russian-French Albatross film studio and its star Ivan Mosjoukine, as well as Marcel L’Herbier’s Art Deco films featuring Kissa Kouprine, a former Paul Poiret model. And we will examine the daily lives of the average Russians in Paris through the online archive of Illustrated Russia, a weekly magazine which ran the first annual Miss Russia beauty contest. By exploring the visual culture of this publication – cartoons, fashion advice, celebrity photographs, children’s section, and advertising – we will reconstruct this remarkable community, the first post-Soviet Russian society. Through comparative and contextual readings, this course showcases Russian literature and culture as inherently transnational, as we build up a new understanding of Russian artistic, national, gender, and ethnic identities. Students will meet working translators and engage in hands-on work with the collections of the Center for Russian Culture. No background or language knowledge required.  

Omitted 2024-25. Professor Parker.

2024-25: Not offered

252 Russia and the Representation of Race

(Offered as RUSS 252, BLST 392 and FAMS 352) This course focuses on the modes by which race has been represented in Russian and Soviet culture. We approach this topic in two ways: first, we examine how Russian and Soviet culture grappled with questions of race, focusing on episodes in the representation of minority peoples throughout the empire and the Soviet Union; secondly, we consider how Russian and Soviet culture served as a mirror in which minorities from other countries saw their experiences partially reflected or as a source from which they found models to articulate their own experience of race. These two concerns guide us through the course as we study such works as Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground as it enters into dialogue with Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man and Leonid Tsypkin’s Summer in Baden Baden; the representation of Central Asia by such figures as Langston Hughes and Andrei Platonov; the appeal of the Soviet Union to Western intellectuals, in particular African-American thinkers and writers, from W.E.B. Du Bois, Hughes, and Claude McKay; Alexander Pushkin and the question of his “blackness” and universality; the cinematic representation of minorities in the films of Dziga Vertov and Vsevolod Pudovkin. We will draw our critical theoretical models from Homi Bhabha, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Patricia Hall Collins, Johannes Fabian, Stuart Hall, and Mary Louise Pratt, among others.

Fall semester. Professor Kunichika.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2024

255 Imposture: Con-men, Swindlers, and Other Pretenders

(Offered by RUSS 255 and EUST 255) This course investigates various figures of imposture. Beginning with Nikolai Gogol’s classic figure of Chichikov from Dead Souls and his genre-bending reversal of the theme in The Inspector General, the course will examine how authors have used confidence games and imposture to reveal particular ploys and gambits in literature. The course will also consider the ways that con-men, swindlers, and pretenders reflect and manipulate the cultural, political, and social dilemmas of their respective periods. While we will focus particularly on the case of Russia—and the distinct place the arts of confidence have had there – we will also consider forms of imposture beyond just a hustle for money and beyond the case of Russia. We will examine imposture in terms of race (as in Nella Larsen's Passing), in the realm of politics (as in Alexander Pushkin's “Boris Godunov”), in relation to the Holocaust (as in Stefan Maechler’s definitive report on the memoirist Benjamin Wilkomirskij), and in such expansive novelistic treatments of this theme by Herman Melville and Thomas Mann. All readings in English. No previous knowledge of Russian culture or history expected.

Professor Kunichika. Omitted 2024-25.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

257 Russian Performances

(Offered as RUSS 257 and THDA 221) What gives force to our actions, our words, and our creations? How do their meanings shape our experience of ourselves and the world around us? We will examine these fundamental questions by drawing on two scholarly resources: the methods of performance studies and materials drawn from various points in Russia’s cultural history. The field of performance studies asks what makes performances matter, on stage and screen as well as  in our daily lives, and radically expands our idea of what counts as performance, bringing together politics and material culture, psychology and sociology, the past and the present. Performances in this sense, broadly understood—from imperial rituals of power to avant-garde artists’ experiments, from early-Soviet public festivals to intimate diaries, poems to monuments, exquisite jewelry to medal ribbons—have been central to the story of Russia’s continuing transformation. Yet the Russian language has no single word that serves as an adequate equivalent of the English-language concept of “performance.” What, then, do the Russian performances we will examine together— a sampling of specific events, objects, and writings from a range of periods—illuminate for us about the promise, and the limits, of using the idea of performance to understand the complex connections between art and experience, creating and acting? Among our primary sources will be materials from the Amherst Center for Russian Culture; students will have an opportunity to work with rare publications and archival documents from the collection. No knowledge of Russian or previous study of Russian history or performance required; all materials in English. Two 80-minute meetings a week.

Omitted 2024-25. Professor Wolfson.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

311 Art and Revolution

At the turn of the twentieth century, Russia staged a revolution in the arts. In an atmosphere of social crisis, artists worked to shatter the wall between art and life – so that art might become more vital and relevant, and life might become more beautiful. How differently might nature, the city and man himself look? Can we access other dimensions? How can we more fully experience the world? This course introduces you to experiments in Russian writing, painting, theater and music that helped influence how we think of art today, such as Malevich’s Suprematism, the Ballets Russes and Soviet constructivism.

These artists’ faith in creative freedom meant that they followed their own paths, and the amazing variety of their work is part of the story we will follow. We will experience that variety first-hand by working with objects from the Whitney Russian Collections. Thomas Whitney ‘37 gave to Amherst his collection of Russian books, housed in the Amherst Center for Russian Culture (Webster Building); we will work with fine art journals from the period and very rare, handmade books by the Russian futurists. Whitney’s Russian art collection, held at the Mead Museum, features major artists of many schools. Work in the course will involve researching an object from the collections and making a presentation on it, either in the mode of scholarship or performance. The course requires no prior knowledge of Russian culture or the arts.

Offered Fall 2024. Professor Ciepiela.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2024

315 What is Language? Russian and Soviet Views in Comparative Context

(Offered as RUSS 315 and EUST 315) “We die. That may be the meaning of life,” writes Toni Morrison. “But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” Russian thinkers, writers, philosophers, and politicians have likewise sought to take measure of their lives and of culture by thinking about the nature of language, and its role in culture, society, and politics. In examining how Russian writers and thinkers have sought to answer the question what is language? — how they did and do language—we will consider a range of sources from intellectual history, linguistics, literary and critical theory, mythology, theology, and philosophy. We will examine the distinctive contributions of Russian thinking about language, while also seeking to situate Russian views on this question within a comparative context. To that end, we will also read intellectual sources that proved seminal for articulating an answer to this question (Vico, Herder, Rousseau, Saussure, and Benveniste, among others). As we consider this broad question, and how it has animated Russian thought and culture, we will also focus upon a range of other questions: What are the origins of language? How does language evolve? What is the relationship of language to national culture? What is the relationship of language to politics? Throughout the course, we will see how views on the nature of language served as an arena in which vying conceptions of culture, politics, and the human have all been contested. All readings in English. No previous knowledge of Russian culture or history expected.

Omitted 24-25. Professor Kunichika.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

317 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 15 students. Omitted 2024-25. Professor Emeritus Rabinowitz

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

321 Monuments, For and Against

(Offered as RUSS 321, ARHA 321 and ARCH 320) Taking case studies from Russian, Soviet, and Post-Soviet history, this course examines monuments and memorials in literature, cinema and the arts. Focusing on specific episodes and case studies, we will consider the form and cultural politics of monuments and memorials, and especially how these objects become arenas in which conceptions of art, history, and politics are contested. We will be interested as much in monuments that were built as those that were destroyed—or dismembered, defaced, dismantled, or relocated—and those that were envisioned but never realized. Case studies will include monuments to Peter the Great, the Soviet avant-garde’s attack on traditional monuments, the monumental assemblage of the Soviet Pavilion at the Paris 1937 Universal Exposition, to Leninopad (the demolishing of monuments to Lenin in Ukraine). We will also consider how these case studies may help us to better understand the dynamics at play in debates around monuments from other periods and cultures—as well as the creative responses that artists have imagined as they grappled with the question of what to do with monuments. No knowledge of the history and culture of Russia and the Soviet Union is required.

Omitted 2024-25. Professor Kunichika.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2024

327 The Brothers Karamazov: a Multidimensional Approach

The contemporary Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk claimed in 1999 that “the book of the millennium is Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. I know of no other book which dramatizes with such beautiful intensity, and on almost encyclopedic scale, the problems of living in this world, of being with other people, and dreaming of a next world.” Through a careful reading of Dostoevsky’s final work of fiction (1880) and universally regarded supreme artistic masterpiece, we shall investigate the applicability of Pamuk’s claim, availing ourselves of additional works that shed light on the novel’s socio-political, psychological, religious/spiritual, philosophical and aesthetic dimensions. Other texts to be considered include: 1) Dostoevsky’s early travelogue “Winter Notes on Summer Impressions” (1862); 2) excerpts from Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s utopian novel What is to be Done? (1863); 3) a medieval saint’s life, “The Life of St. Theodosius”; and 4) two critical studies by American Dostoevsky specialists James Rice (Dostoevsky and the Healing Art, 1985) and Liza Knapp (The Annihilation of Inertia: Dostoevsky and Metaphysics, 1996). Our semester-long examination of The Brothers Karamazov will conclude with a discussion of Jose Ortega y Gasset’s “Why Dostoevsky Lives in the Twentieth Century,” from his 1925 essay “Dostoevsky and Proust,” and Leonid Tsypkin’s short novel Summer in Baden Baden (1980), which will help us to articulate further the attractions, the challenges and the ambiguities we encounter when reading a writer as profound, and as controversial, as Dostoevsky.

Limited to 20 students; open to first-year students with instructor's permission. Omitted 2024-25. Professor emeritus Rabinowitz.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

Senior Departmental Honors Courses

498, 499 Senior Departmental Honors

Open to, and required of, seniors writing a thesis.

Spring semester. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

Special Topics Courses

490 Special Topics

Independent Reading Course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024, Fall 2024

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