Russian 330: The Forbidden: Eroticism, Passion and Death in Russian Culture
Professor: Kristin Bidoshi
Course Description: In this course we will investigate the forbidden in 19th and 20th century Russian culture. Specifically, we will focus on eroticism, passion and death in the context of Russian literature and culture. We will discuss problems of passion, desire, pain and torment, and issues of death and rebirth. The course will be conducted as a combination of lectures and class discussion. One film will be shown. Through analysis of literature, music, and painting we will ask questions such as: Is there a necessary link between the erotic and the forbidden? What does a portrayal of passion tell us about a society's value system? Is death in Russian culture celebrated or condemned and is it a way of self-knowledge?
Course Requirements and Evaluation: Students will be expected to have completed the reading for each class as outlined below and to actively contribute to class discussion. Students are strongly encouraged to attend classes regularly. In addition, students will be responsible for the presentation of one short story. You must sign up for a presentation slot and have your topic approved no later than the end of the third week of class. Students will also write two one-page response papers due the third and fifth week of class. The final 8-page paper will be submitted first as a draft and then as a final version. Detailed instructions on writing assignments will be provided. The final grade for the course will be determined based on the following:
Attendance and Participation 40%
Two Response Papers 10% (5% each)
Final Paper (8 pgs) 40%
Required Reading: (Works marked with an asterisk are short stories in a course packet that you must purchase from Livia in the Modern Languages office. You will need to do this as soon as possible. The packet costs $15. You will purchase Anna Karenina and It’s Me Edichoka later in the term.)
*Pushkin, “Bronze Horseman”
*Lermontov, “Tamara”, “The Angel” and “Demon”
*Gogol, “Vii” and "The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich"
*Turgenev, “First Love”
*Dostoevsky, "White Nights"
*Leskov, “Lady McBeth of the Mtsensk District”
Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (must be the Norton Critical Edition)
*Gorky, “26 Men and a Girl”
Limonov, It's Me Edichoka
Example of Weekly Schedule:
Week One St. Petersburg as Symbol of Russia’s Cultural Schizophrenia
Monday, September 8 Introduction to Class/Class Policies
Wednesday, September 10 Pushkin, “Bronze Horseman”
Week Two Love and Passion in Russian Culture
Monday, September 15 Lermontov, “Tamara”, “The Angel”, “Demon” and Gogol, "Vii" and
"The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich"
Wednesday, September 17 Romanticism in Art: Brullov, "Last Day of Pompeii"; Ivanov, "Appearance of the Messiah"
Week Three Abusing the Erotic: Pain and Torment in Russian Literature
Monday, September 22 Turgenev, "First Love"
Wednesday, September 24 Dostoevsky, "White Nights" * 1st Response Paper Due
Week Four Death in Russian Realistic Art and Literature
Monday, September 29 Realism in Art: Perov, "Village Burial"; Kramskoy, "Inconsolable Grief"
and "Christ in the Wilderness"; Repin, "Mussorgsky" and "Volga
Wednesday, October 1 Leskov, “Lady McBeth of the Mtsensk District”
Week Five Passion
Monday, October 6 Tolstoy, Anna Karenina Book 1, Parts 1, 2 (1-216)
Wednesday, October 8 Tolstoy, Anna Karenina Book 1, Part 3 (216-321)
* 2nd Response Paper Due
Week Six Seduction
Monday, October 13 Tolstoy, Anna Karenina Books 1 & 2, Parts 4 & 5 (321-500)
Wednesday, October 15 Tolstoy, Anna Karenina Book 2, Part 6 (500-606)
Week Seven Adultery
Monday, October 20 Tolstoy, Anna Karenina Book 2, Part 7 (606-695)
Wednesday, October 22 Tolstoy, Anna Karenina Book 2, Part 8 (695-740)
Week Eight Romance and Sex in the Silver Age
Monday, October 27 Chaikovsky Ballets: Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, and The Nutcracker,
Sex and the Silver Age: Assorted Symbolist Poetry ("The Puppet Show")
Wednesday, October 29 Gorky, "26 Men and a Girl" and Discussion of Passion in Art:
Vasnetsov, "The Warrior at the Crossroads", "A Song of Joy and Sorrow", "The Baptism of Rus", "Bogatyrs"; Vrubel, "The Demon Downcast", "The Demon Seated", "The Swan Princess", "Tamara's Dance"; Petrov-Vodkin, "Morning", "Bathing the Red Horse" and "Boys".
Week Nine The Erotic
Monday, November 3 Discussion of Draft of Final Paper
Wednesday, November 5 Limonov, It’s Me, Eddie (1-264)
Week Ten The Forbidden
Monday, November 10 Film: Lolita
Wednesday, November 12 Final Comments
Final Paper due day of Final Exam.