Childhood in Russian Literature and Film (Fall Even Years)
This class will investigate the discovery of childhood in Russia in the late Nineteenth century and early Twentieth century. Tolstoy's novel Childhood, Boyhood, Youth has been regarded as the first recollection of a Russian childhood. With this work a tradition began of recalling idyllic childhoods on Russian estates. How do Russian working class childhoods differ from those of the nobility? What role does gender play in the recollections of childhood? Examining the childhoods depicted by subsequent writers, this class will determine how the vision of childhood changed. Course requirements include a midterm and final paper.
Soviet and American Animation (Fall Odd Years)
Soviet Animation from the 1960s to the 1990s, that is, from the Cold War to Glasnost', was far from child's play. Animation in the former Soviet Union was a medium that allowed for the creation of life other than Soviet reality, despite the strict censorship of ideas during this time period. This class proposes to explore the concepts of the dual audience, ritualized master plots, Disneyfication, and montage. Students will also be introduced to the role of the KGB, the Soviet Underground, International Animation Festivals, the Soiuzmultfilm Animation Studio, and the Communist Party in the creation of animation. Students will become familiarized with the necessary technological aspects of animation, from stop-motion films to CGI, including scripts, storyboards, hand-drawn cells, the role of music and the intertextual relation of other arts and literature to this medium. The animated films will be presented thematically.
Gender Issues in Russian Culture (Winter Even Years)
This course will examine the concepts of gender and sexuality in Russian culture. Russia can be viewed both as a society composed of strong women and weak men, and conversely as a male dominated society with subservient women. In the 18th century, as well as the 1920s, outsiders often saw Russia as a land of free love. In addition, the "social engineering" of the 1917 Revolution attempted to reorder the family unit and to enforce equality between the sexes. Themes that will be covered in this class are androgyny, cross-dressing, love triangles, male anxiety and life after love. Course requirements include a midterm and final paper.
Soviet Science Fiction and Utopian Worlds (Winter Odd Years)
This course focuses on Russian science fiction and utopian literature and film from the 1900s to the 1920s. With the advances in technology and science in the early 1900s Russian writers and filmmakers tried to predict what life would be like in the future. The course will look at Bogdanov’s Red Star (1908), which presents Martian life as a perfect Communist Utopia. We will also study Tsiolkovsky’s famous designs for rocket propulsion and Malevich’s Suprematist artwork, which defies gravity. After the 1917 revolution, writers such as Bulgakov (Heart of a Dog) and Zamiatin (We) struggled in their writings with trying to depict the perfect Soviet society on earth. We will also watch several films including Aelita, featuring the Queen of Mars and a version of Heart of a Dog. We will discuss topics such as progress, utopia/ dystopia, human perfectibility, the limits of science, gender, the nature of knowledge, and human/other identity.
Russian Folklore (Spring Even Years)
This course will introduce Russian folklore and the continuing cultural influence that folklore has in Russian literature, art and film. Readings will include a wide selection of Russian fairy tales and folktales and also the stylized tales of Russian literary figures such as Pushkin, Gogol. Other aspects of folklore including children’s games, songs, and jokes will be discussed. In addition, the course will cover both yearly and life cycle rituals, including birth, death, marriage, Easter, and New Year's. This introduction to the study of folklore will present a variety of approaches to the interpretation of folklore, including psychoanalysis, sociology, structuralism, and feminism. Course requirements include writing a midterm exam and a final project
Russian Children’s Literature and its American Counterparts (Spring Odd Years)
This course is designed as a study of the construction of Russian children’s literature over the last two centuries by reading favorite stories and authors of the old and young alike in Russia. Readings will include Russian fairytales, stories written by Lev Tolstoy and Kornei Chukovsky (the Russian Dr. Seuss) as well as some of your favorite books from American children’s literature. This course will focus on multicultural issues that have shaped the history of children’s literature both in the United States and Russia. Topics will include the position of the market in children’s literature, the Disneyfication of childhood, the role of gender in books for children and the recent phenomenon of Harry Potter.
New Russian Cinema (Cross listed with Film Studies 160)
This course will address certain problems arising from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the need for Russians to redefine, reconstruct and recreate a national identity. After the literal collapse of a once all-powerful ideology that had defined nationhood, created myths of a bright future, and even rewritten the past, post-Soviet filmmakers began to portray the ruined reality that surrounded them. This course will examine the role of the Soviet Film industry in film production and the independent film studios that appeared in the wake of its demise. The role of the filmmaker in creating a new Russian national cinema will be considered: is the filmmaker to be considered a prophet, an artist or perhaps a mass entertainer? Students are required to write one midterm and one final paper. No background in Russian studies expected. Students are expended to keep a film journal, and write a midterm and final paper.
Dostoevsky and the Novel
This course will focus on the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky and will highlight his influence on 20th century literature and film. Reading for this class will include three novels by Dostoevsky: Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov. The goal of this course is to encourage the exploration of one of Russia’s greatest novelists and public figures. An understanding of Dostoevsky is an essential component of an understanding of nineteenth century Russia, and arguably of Russian culture, and Russian intellectual and cultural history. No background in Russian studies expected. Students are expected to write two short thought papers and a final paper.
19th Century Russian Literature
Nineteenth-century Russia enjoyed one of history’s great outpourings of literary creativity. This course is designed to serve as an introduction to classic texts by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Lermontov, and the author native Russians consider their greatest master, Pushkin. Discussion topics vary widely depending on text, ranging from the dilemmas of modern spirituality and social engineering to the meaning of human love and from the allure of suicide to the existence of God and whether Western culture is leading the world astray. We will also look at Pushkin’s fetish for shapely little feet and Dostoevsky’s idea that 2+2 = 5. We will also examine the development of Russian Formalism, a movement of literary criticism, which focused on the form rather than the content of 19th Century Russian literature. No background in Russian studies expected. Students are expected to write two short thought papers and a final paper.
Irony of Fate
This course uses Russian films of the late 20th century to enhance students’ language skills and deepen their cultural knowledge. Course work will involve intensive conversation, and listening comprehension and the acquisition of written skills and grammatical accuracy. The course will be conducted primarily in Russian. The first quarter will focus on Eldar Ryazonov’s film Irony of Fate, a cult classic of the 1970s, still shown on television every year to commemorate the New Year celebration Students should have completed Russian 2C or can also enroll with the permission of the instructor.
Moscow Does not Believe in Tears
This course uses Russian films of the late 20th century to enhance students’ language skills and deepen their cultural knowledge. Course work will involve intensive conversation, and listening comprehension and the acquisition of written skills and grammatical accuracy. The course will be conducted primarily in Russian. This quarter will focus on Menshov’s Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (1979), which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1980.