Courses

Academic Year

Slavic Department Listings

Course brochure

See also the list of past years' courses.

Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCSN), Czech (CZEC), East European (EEUR), Georgian (GEOR),

General Slavic (SLAV), Polish (POLI), Russian (RUSS), South Slavic (SOSL)

BCSN 10103 - 10203 - 10303
First-Year Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian I, II, III

Nada Petkovic
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Autumn Spring Winter
2016-2017
Language course

In this three-quarter sequence introductory course in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS) languages and cultures, students are encouraged to concentrate on the language of their interest and choice. The major objective is to build a solid foundation in the grammatical patterns of written and spoken BCS, while introducing both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. This is achieved through a communicative situation-based approach, textbook dialogues, reinforcement by the instructor, screenings of film shorts, TV announcements, documentaries, commercials, and the like. The course includes a sociolinguistic component, an essential part of understanding the similarities and differences between the languages. Mandatory drill sessions are held twice per week, offering students ample opportunity to review and practice materials presented in class.

BCSN 20103 - 20203 - 20303
Second-Year Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian I, II, III

Nada Petkovic
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
BCSN 10103/10203/10303
Autumn Spring Winter
2016-2017
Language course

The Second-Year course in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian languages and cultures is a continuation of First-Year BCS, and therefore assumes one year of formal study of the target language(s) or equivalent coursework elsewhere. The course is focused on spoken and written modern BCS, emphasizing communicative practice in authentic cultural contexts. The language(s) are introduced through a series of dialogues gathered from a variety of textbooks published in Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia, as well as newspaper articles, short biographies, poems, and song lyrics in both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. A vast archive of audiovisual materials, representing both high and popular culture, constitute an integral part of every unit. Simultaneously, aural comprehension, speaking, grammar, and vocabulary are reinforced and further developed throughout the year. Mandatory drill sessions are held twice a week, offering students ample opportunity to review and practice materials presented in class.

BCSN 21101 / 31101
Advanced BCS: Language through Fiction

Nada Petkovic
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
REES 21101/31101
Autumn
2016-2017
Language course

Advanced BCS courses encompass both the 3rd and 4th years of language study, with the focus changed from language structure and grammar to issues in interdisciplinary content. The courses are not in sequence. Language through Fiction is designed to help students and instructors over one of the most difficult hurdles in language training—the transition from working through lessons in a textbook to reading unedited texts. Literature represents the greatest development of the expressive possibilities of a language and reveals the bounds within which language operates. The texts will immerse motivated language students in a complete language experience, as the passages and related exercises present the language’s structure on every page. Students will learn how to engage the natural, organic language of a literary text across a variety of styles and themes. The course assumes that students are familiar with basic grammar and vocabulary, as well as both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. It is particularly appealing to students who are interested in the literature, history, and anthropology of the region.

BCSN 21200 / 31200
Advanced BCS: Language through Film

Nada Petkovic
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
REES 21200/31200
Winter
2016-2017
Language course

Advanced BCS courses encompass both the 3rd and 4th years of language study, with the focus changed from language structure and grammar to issues in interdisciplinary content. The courses are not in sequence. This course addresses the theme of Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav identity through discussion and interpretation based on selected films, documentaries, images, and related texts—historical and literary, popular press, advertisements, screenplays, and literature on film. Emphasis is on interpersonal communication as well as the interpretation and production of language in written and oral forms. The course engages in systematic grammar review, along with introduction of some new linguistic topics, with constant practice in writing and vocabulary enrichment. The syllabus includes the screening of six films, each from a different director, region, and period, starting with Cinema Komunisto (2012), a documentary by Mila Turajlic. This film will be crucial for understanding how Yugoslav cinema was born and how, in its origins, it belongs to what a later cinephile, Fredric Jameson, has called a “geopolitical aesthetic.” We shall investigate the complex relationship between aesthetics and ideology in the Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav cinema, and pay close attention to aesthetic conceptions and concrete formal properties, and more importantly, to language, narrative logic, and style.

BCSN 21300 / 31300
(Re)Branding the Balkan City: Contemporary Belgrade, Sarajevo, Zagreb, also Advanced BCS

Nada Petkovic
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
REES 21300/31300
Spring
2016-2017
Language course

The course will use an urban studies lens to explore the complex history, infrastructure, and transformations of these three cities, now the capitals of Serbia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, and Croatia. Drawing on anthropological theory and ethnography of the city, we will consider processes of urban destruction and renewal, practices of branding spaces and identities, urban life as praxis, art and design movements, architectural histories and styles, metropolitan citizenship, and the broader politics of space. The course is complemented by cultural and historical media, guest speakers, and virtual tours. Classes are held in English. No knowledge of BCS is required. However, this module can fulfill a language requirement or simply further the study of BCS with additional weekly sections, materials, discussions, and presentations in the target language.

CZEC 10103 - 10203 - 10303
First-Year Czech I, II, III

Esther Peters
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Autumn Spring Winter
2016-2017
Language course

This course is an introduction to the basic grammar of Czech with attention given to all four skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing, as well as exposure to Czech culture. Winter and Spring Quarters include work with Czech film and literature. Students gain some familiarity with the major differences between literary and spoken Czech as they learn to use the language both as a means of communication and as a tool for reading and research.

POLI 10103 - 10203 - 10303
First-Year Polish I, II, III

Kinga Kosmala
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Autumn Spring Winter
2016-2017
Language course

This course teaches students to speak, read, and write in Polish, as well as familiarizes them with Polish culture. It employs the most up-to-date techniques of language teaching (e.g.,communicative and accelerated learning, and learning based on students' native language skills), as well as multileveled target-language exposure.

POLI 20103 - 20203 - 20303
Second-Year Polish I, II, III

Kinga Kosmala
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
POLI 10103, 10203, 10303 or equivalent.
Autumn Spring Winter
2016-2017
Language course

This course includes instruction in grammar, writing, and translation, as well as watching selected Polish movies. Selected readings are drawn from the course textbook, and students also read Polish short stories and press articles. In addition, the independent reading of students is emphasized and reinforced by class discussions. Work is adjusted to each student's level of preparation.

POLI 20403 - 20503 - 20603 / 30403 - 30503 - 30603
Third-Year Polish I, II, III

Kinga Kosmala
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
POLI 20103, 20203, 20303 or equivalent.
Autumn Spring Winter
2016-2017
Language course

The process of learning in all three quarters of Third-Year Polish is framed by three themes, which most succinctly but aptly characterize Polish life, culture, and history: in the Autumn Quarter—the noble democracy in the Commonwealth of Both Nations, in the Winter Quarter—the fight for independence, and in the Spring Quarter—the newly independent Poland. During the course of the year, students also improve their knowledge of advanced grammar and stylistics. All work in Polish.

POLI 24100 - 24200 - 24300 / 40100 - 40200 - 40300
Polish Through Literary Reading I, II, III

Kinga Kosmala
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
POLI 20403/30403, 20503/30503, 20603/30503 or equivalent.
Autumn Spring Winter
2016-2017
Language course

An advanced language course emphasizing spoken and written Polish. Readings include original Polish prose and poetry as well as nonfiction. Intensive grammar review and vocabulary building. For students who have taken Third Year Polish and for native or heritage speakers who want to read Polish literature in the original. Readings and discussions in Polish.

RUSS 10103 - 10203 - 10303
First Year Russian I, II, III

Erik Houle, Mark Baugher
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Autumn Spring Winter
2016-2017
Language course

This course introduces modern Russian to students who would like to speak Russian or to use the language for reading and research. All four major communicative skills (i.e., reading, writing, listening comprehension, speaking) are stressed. Students are also introduced to Russian culture through readings, videos, and class discussions. This yearlong course prepares students for the College Language Competency Exam, for continued study of Russian in second-year courses, and for study or travel abroad in Russian-speaking countries. Conversation practice is held twice a week.

RUSS 20103 - 20203 - 20303
Second Year Russian I, II, III

Erik Houle, Mark Baugher
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
RUSS 10103, 10203, 10303 or consent of instructor. Drill sessions to be arranged.
Autumn Spring Winter
2016-2017
Language course

This course continues RUSS 10103-10203-10303; it includes review and amplification of grammar, practice in reading, elementary composition, and speaking and comprehension. Systematic study of word formation and other strategies are taught to help free students from excessive dependence on the dictionary and develop confidence in reading rather than translating. Readings are selected to help provide historical and cultural background. Conversation practice is held twice a week.

RUSS 20702 - 20802 - 20902
Third Year Russian Culture I, II, III

Valentina Pichugin
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
RUSS 20103, 20203, 20303 or consent of instructor. Drill sessions ot be arranged.
Autumn Spring Winter
2016-2017
Language course

This course, which is intended for third-year students of Russian, covers various aspects of Russian grammar in context and emphasizes the four communicative skills (i.e., reading, writing, listening comprehension, speaking) in a culturally authentic context. Excerpts from popular Soviet/Russian films and clips from Russian television news reports are shown and discussed in class. Classes conducted in Russian; some aspects of grammar explained in English. Drill practice is held twice a week.

RUSS 21302 - 21402 - 21502 / 30102 - 30202 - 30302
Advanced Russian Through Media I, II, III

Valentina Pichugin
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
RUSS 20702, 20802, 20902 or consent of instructor; drill sessions to be arranged.
Crosslists: 
REES 21502 (Spring), REES 30302 (Spring)
Autumn Spring Winter
2016-2017
Language course

This course, which is designed for fifth-year students of Russian, covers various aspects of Russian stylistics and discourse grammar in context. It emphasizes the four communicative skills (i.e., reading, writing, listening comprehension, speaking) in culturally authentic context. Clips from Russian/Soviet films and television news reports are shown and discussed in class. Classes conducted in Russian. Conversation practice is held twice a week.

RUSS 29910 - 29911 - 29912 / 39910 - 39911 - 39912
Special Topics in Advanced Russian I, II, III

Valentina Pichugin
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
RUSS 21302/30102, 21402/30202, 21502/30302 or consent of instructor. Drill sessions to be arranged.
2016-2017
Language course

Must complete Advanced Russian through Media or equivalent, or obtain consent of instructor. Class meets for 2 hours each week.

Sping 2017: We'll work with several topics, all of them are relevant to the general theme of "Geography and Worldview: Russian Perspective".  There will be maps, reading materials, several documentaries, clips from TV programs and other media, and feature films.  Class meetings will be a combination of group discussions, short presentations, and lectures.  Final - one term paper at the end (in English) based on Russian materials.

REES 20013 / 30013
Dostoevsky

Robert Bird
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
HUMA 24800, RLST 28204, FNDL 24612
Winter
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

Dostoevsky was an inveterate risk-taker, not only at the baccarat tables of the Grand Casino in Baden-Baden, but in his personal life, his political activities, and his artistic endeavors. This course is intended to investigate his two greatest wagers: on the presence of the divine in the world and on the power of artistic form to convey and articulate this presence. Dostoevsky’s wager on form is evident even in his early, relatively conventional texts, like The Double. It intensifies after his decade-long sojourn in Siberia, exploding in works like The Notes from Underground, which one-and-a-half centuries later remains and aesthetic and philosophical provocation of immense power. The majority of the course will focus on Dostoevsky’s later novels. In Crime and Punishment Dostoevsky adapts suspense strategies to create a metaphysical thriller, while in The Demons he pairs a study of nihilism with the deformation of the novel as a genre. Through close readings of these works we will trace how Dostoevsky’s formal experimentation created new ways of exploring realms of existence that traditionally belonged philosophy and theology. The results were never comfortable or comforting; we will focus on interpreting Dostoevsky’s metaphysical provocations.

REES 20020 / 30020
Pale Fire

Malynne Sternstein
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
FNDL 25311
Spring
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

This course is an intensive reading of Pale Fire by Nabokov.

REES 20001 / 30001
War and Peace

William Nickell
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 22301,CMLT 32301,FNDL 27103,ENGL 28912,HIST 23704,ENGL 32302
Autumn
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

Tolstoy’s novel is at once a national epic, a treatise on history, a spiritual meditation, and a masterpiece of realism. This course presents a close reading of one of the world’s great novels, and of the criticism that has been devoted to it, including landmark works by Victor Shklovsky, Boris Eikhenbaum, Isaiah Berlin, and George Steiner.

REES 27021 / 37021
Narratives of Assimilation

Bożena Shallcross
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
JWSC 20003, NEHC 20405/30405
Winter
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

Engaging the concept of liminality—of a community at the threshold of radical transformation—the course analyzes how East Central European Jewry, facing economic uncertainties and dangers of modern anti-Semitism, seeks another diasporic space in North America. Projected against the historical backdrop of the end of the nineteenth century and the twentieth century, the immigration narratives are viewed through the lens of assimilation, its trials and failures; in particular, we investigate why efforts of social, cultural and economic inclusion cannot be mistaken with imposing on a given minority the values of majority. One of the main points of interests is the creative self ‘s reaction to the challenges of radical otherness, such as the new environment, its cultural codes and language barriers. We discuss the manifold strategies of artistic (self)-representations of the Jewish writers, many of whom came from East Central European shtetls to be confronted again with economic hardship and assimilation to the American metropolitan space and life style. During this course, we inquire how the condition called assimilation and its attendants—integration, secularization, acculturation, cosmopolitanism, etc.—are adapted or resisted according to the generational differences, a given historical moment or inherited strategies of survival and adaptation. We seek answers to the perennial question why some émigré writers react negatively to the social, moral and cultural values of the host country and others seize them as a creative opportunity. Students are acquainted with problems of cultural and linguistic isolation and/ or integration, hybrid identity formation and cultural transmission through a wide array of artistic genres—a novel, short story, memoir, photography, and illustration. The course draws on the autobiographical writings of Polish-Jewish, Russian-Jewish, and American-Jewish authors such as Anzia Yezierska, Mary Antin, Isaac B. Singer, Eva Hoffman and others; all texts are read in English.

REES 21002 / 31002
Kieślowski’s French Cinema

Bożena Shallcross
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMST 24405/34405
Winter
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

Krzysztof Kieślowski’s The Decalogue and The Double Life of Veronique catapulted the Polish director to the international scene. His subsequent French triptych Blue, White, Red turned out to be his last works that altered his image and legacy to affirm his status as an auteur and a representative of the transnational cinema.  We discuss how in his virtual universe of parallel histories and repeated chances, captured with visually and aurally dazzling artistry, the possibility of reconstituting one’s identity, triggered by tragic loss and betrayal, reveals an ever-ambiguous reality. By focusing on the filmmaker’s dissolution of the thing-world, often portrayed on the verge of vague abstraction of (in)audibility or (un)transparency, this course bridges his cinema with the larger concepts of postmodern subjectivity and possibility of metaphysics. The course concludes with the filmmaker’s contribution to world cinema. All along, we read selections from Kieślowski’s and Piesiewicz’s screen scripts, Kieślowski’s own writings and interviews, as well as from the abundant criticism of his French movies. All materials are in English.

REES 21006 / 31006
Joseph Conrad’s: The Secret Agent

Bożena Shallcross
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
ENGL 21006/31006, FNDL 21006
Spring
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

This course centers on a close reading of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale (1907). Contemporary critics often consider this novel to be the archetypal fictional work about terrorism, as it is based on the bomb attack that occurred on the Royal Observatory in Greenwich in 1888. The Secret Agent demonstrates, however, much more than its prophetic significance rediscovered after 9/11. Therefore, the course seeks how the novel’s relevance stems in equal measure from Conrad’s interest in a wider political process and his distrust of state power; in particular, the course explores how these forces determine the individual caught in a confining situation. We read The Secret Agent as a political novel, which in its struggle for solutions defies chaos as well as an imposition of a single ideology or one authorial point of view. The novel’s ambiguities and political antinomies reveal its polyphonic structure allowing for interdisciplinary readings (Marxist, contextual, proto-existentialist, post-Lacanian) that also present an opportunity to critically overview the established approaches to main Conradian themes; for example, in order to destabilize the standard view of the writer as a conservative anti-revolutionary, we consider some biographical connections, such as his family members’ radical (“Red”) social agenda of the abolishment of serfdom. In analyzing the formation of the narrative’s ideology we discuss Conrad’s historical pessimism that demonstrates with sustained irony how capitalism breeds social injustice that, in turn, breeds anarchism. The class also focuses on just how the novel exposes duplicity in staging surveillance, terrorism, as well as adjacent forms of violence or sacrifice. The critical texts include several older but still influential readings (Jameson, Eagleton) of the novel’s political and social dimension, as well as the most recent pronouncements of A Simple Tale’s complexity. All texts are in English.

REES 21000 / 31000
Gombrowicz: The Writer as Philosopher

Bożena Shallcross
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
ISHU 29405, FNDL 26903
Spring
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

In this course, we will dwell on Witold Gombrowicz the philosopher, exploring the components of his authorial style that substantiate his claim to both the literary and the philosophical spheres. This erudite Polish author is a prime 20th century modernist whose novels, entangled in an ongoing battle with fundamental questions and, indeed, with existence itself, explode with uncanny laughter. In contrast to many of his contemporary writers who established their reputation by applying existing philosophical models, Gombrowicz employed ironically his philosophical erudition, while engaging in his philosophical récit the literary and cultural tropes which derived from his Polish cultural heritage.  Over the next ten weeks, we will investigate how he twisted these references and tropes to inform a distinctly Gombrowiczian version of performative philosophy. We will read Gombrowicz’s novels, lectures on philosophy and some of his autobiographical writings to seek answers to our overarching question: what makes this author a philosopher?

REES 29023 / 39023
Returning the Gaze: the West and the Rest

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 23201,CMLT 33201,NEHC 20885,NEHC 30885
Autumn
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

Aware of being observed. And judged. Inferior... Abject… Angry... Proud… This course provides insight into identity dynamics between the “West,” as the center of economic power and self-proclaimed normative humanity, and the “Rest,” as the poor, backward, volatile periphery. We investigate the relationship between South East European self-representations and the imagined Western gaze. Inherent in the act of looking at oneself through the eyes of another is the privileging of that other’s standard. We will contemplate the responses to this existential position of identifying symbolically with a normative site outside of oneself—self-consciousness, defiance, arrogance, self-exoticization—and consider how these responses have been incorporated in the texture of the national, gender, and social identities in the region. Orhan Pamuk, Ivo Andrić, Nikos Kazantzakis, Aleko Konstantinov, Emir Kusturica, Milcho Manchevski.

REES 29010 / 39010
Strangers to Ourselves: Émigré Lit from Russia and SE Europe

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 26902,CMLT 36902
Autumn
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

“Being alienated from myself, as painful as that may be, provides me with that exquisite distance within which perverse pleasure begins, as well as the possibility of my imagining and thinking,” writes Julia Kristeva in "Strangers to Ourselves," the book from which this course takes its title. The authors whose works we are going to examine often alternate between nostalgia and the exhilaration of being set free into the breathless possibilities of new lives. Leaving home does not simply mean movement in space. Separated from the sensory boundaries that defined their old selves, immigrants inhabit a warped, fragmentary, disjointed time. Immigrant writers struggle for breath—speech, language, voice, the very stuff of their craft resounds somewhere else. Join us as we explore the pain, the struggle, the failure, and the triumph of emigration and exile. Vladimir Nabokov, Joseph Brodsky, Marina Tsvetaeva, Nina Berberova, Julia Kristeva, Alexander Hemon, Dubravka Ugrešić, Norman Manea, Miroslav Penkov, Ilija Trojanow, Tea Obreht

REES 29009 / 39009
Balkan Folklore

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
ANTH 25908,ANTH 35908,CMLT 23301,CMLT 33301,NEHC 20568,NEHC 30568
Winter
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

Vampires, fire-breathing dragons, vengeful mountain nymphs. 7/8 and other uneven dance beats, heart-rending laments, and a living epic tradition. This course is an overview of Balkan folklore from historical, political, and anthropological perspectives. We seek to understand folk tradition as a dynamic process and consider the function of different folklore genres in the imagining and maintenance of community and the socialization of the individual. We also experience this living tradition firsthand through visits of a Chicago-based folk dance ensemble, “Balkan Dance.”

REES 29020 / 39020
The Shadows of Living Things: the Writings of Mikhail Bulgakov.

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
FNDL 29020
Winter
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

“What would your good do if evil did not exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared? After all, shadows are cast by things and people…. Do you want to strip the earth of all the trees and living things just because of your fantasy of enjoying naked light?” asks the Devil.

Mikhail Bulgakov worked on his novel The Master and Margarita throughout most of his writing career, in Stalin’s Moscow. Bulgakov destroyed his manuscript, re-created it from memory, and reworked it feverishly even as his body was failing him in his battle with death.  The result is an intense contemplation on the nature of good and evil, on the role of art and the ethical duty of the artist, but also a dazzling world of magic, witches, and romantic love, and an irresistible seduction into the comedic. Laughter, as shadow and light, as subversive weapon but also as power’s whip, grounds human relation to both good and evil. Brief excursions to other texts that help us better understand Master and Margarita.

REES 29013 / 39013
The Burden of History: The Nation and Its Lost Paradise.

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
REES 39013,CMLT 23401,CMLT 33401,ISHU 22606,NEHC 20573,NEHC 30573
Spring
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

How and why do national identities provoke the deep emotional attachments that they do? In this course we try to understand these emotional attachments by examining the narrative of loss and redemption through which most nations in the Balkans retell their Ottoman past. We begin by considering the mythic temporality of the Romantic national narrative while focusing on specific national literary texts where the national past is retold through the formula of original wholeness, foreign invasion, Passion, and Salvation. We then proceed to unpack the structural role of the different elements of that narrative. With the help of Žižek’s theory of the subject as constituted by trauma, we think about the national fixation on the trauma of loss, and the role of trauma in the formation of national consciousness. Specific theme inquiries involve the figure of the Janissary as self and other, brotherhood and fratricide, and the writing of the national trauma on the individual physical body. Special attention is given to the general aesthetic of victimhood, the casting of the victimized national self as the object of the “other’s perverse desire.” With the help of Freud, Žižek, and Kant we consider the transformation of national victimhood into the sublimity of the national self. The main primary texts include Petar Njegoš’ Mountain Wreath (Serbia and Montenegro), Ismail Kadare’s The Castle (Albania), Anton Donchev’s Time of Parting (Bulgaria).

REES 29018 / 39018
Imaginary Worlds: The Fantastic and Magic Realism from Russia and Southeastern Europe

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Spring
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

In this course, we will ask what constitutes the fantastic and magic realism as literary genres while reading some of the most interesting writings to have come out of Russia and Southeastern Europe. While considering the stylistic and narrative specificities of this narrative mode, we also think about its political functions —from subversive to escapist, to supportive of a nationalist imaginary—in different contexts and at different historic moments in the two regions.

REES 23203 / 32303
Animal Stories

Esther Peters
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 23203
Winter
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

This course will explore the depiction of animals and the broader concept of animaility in Central and East European Literature. We begin with an introduction to the history of literary depictions of animals in Aesop’s Fables, Herder’s “On Image, Poetry, and Fable,” and Tolstoy’s “Kholstomer -- The Story of a Horse.” Franz Kafka‘s stories--such as “The Metamorphosis” and  “Report to an Academy”--will provide an introduction to the main issues of animality: animal conflict and violence, as in Karel Čapek’s War with the Newts; animal hybridity or transformation, as in Mikhail Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog; animal engagement speech in writing, as in Nikolai Gogol’s “Diary of a Madman.”  Other authors include Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Bruno Schulz and Georgi Gospodinov. In addition to exploring the depictions of animals through close readings of the literary texts, the course will also engage with  major philosophical thinkers whose work touches upon animilaty, including: Jacob von Uexküll, Walter Benjamin, Giorgio Agamben, Gilles Deleuze, and Jaques Derrida.

REES 24414
Soviet Science Fiction

Zdenko Mandusic
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Winter
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

In the Soviet Union, science fiction played an integral part in intellectual debates about the best way to engage with the new realities of the twentieth century. This literary and cinematic genre was thought capable of reinventing the lives, realties and even beliefs of the Soviets. This course will study the cultural, historical, and political contexts of science fiction from the Soviet Union through literature such as Evgenii Zamiatin’s dystopian novel We (the inspiration for George Orwell’s 1984), Ivan Efremov’s The Andromeda Nebula (1956), and the work Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, along with films such as Iakov Protazanov's Aelita (1924), the first Soviet science fiction film,  later Pavel Klushantsev’s imaginings of space travel in Road to the Stars (1957), and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972)—a mysterious, human drama set in space. The primary goal of the course is to study how Soviet writers and filmmakers utilizes science fiction to interpret and/or comment upon their present historical moment? What alternatives to Soviet reality were proposed through science fiction? Lastly, how did science fiction texts and films relate to scientific research in the Soviet Union, especially the Soviet space program?

REES 25602
Russian Short Fiction: Experiments in Form

Kaitlyn Tucker
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Winter
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

Russian literature is known for the sweeping epics that Henry James once dubbed the “loose baggy monsters.” However, in addition to the famed ‘doorstop novels,’ the Russian literary canon also has a long tradition of innovative short fiction—of short stories and novellas that experiment with forms of storytelling and narration. This course focuses on such works, as well as the narrative strategies and formal devices that allow these short stories and novellas to be both effective and economical. Throughout the quarter, we will read short fiction from a variety of Russian authors and examine the texts that establish the tradition of Russian short fiction as well as those that push its boundaries. This course will serve as a general survey of Russian Literature, as well as a focused introduction to a particular genre in that tradition. Although predominantly discussion-based, the class will also include short lectures by the instructor to introduce students to the broader historical contexts of the course texts, and to sample diverse theoretical approaches to those texts.

REES 23137 / 33137
Narratives of Suspense in European/Russian Lit/Film

Esther Peters
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 22100,CMST 25102,CMST 35102,ENGL 26901,ENGL 46901
Spring
2016-2017
Literature and Linguistics course

This course examines the nature and creation of suspense in literature and film as an introduction to narrative theory.  We will question how and why stories are created, as well as what motivates us to continue reading, watching, and listening to stories.  We will explore how particular genres (such as detective stories and thrillers) and the mediums of literature and film influence our understanding of suspense and narrative more broadly.  Close readings of primary sources will be supplemented with critical and theoretical readings.  Literary readings will include work by John Buchan, Arthur Conan Doyle, Feodor Dostoevsky, Graham Green, Bohumil Hrabal, and J.M. Coetzee.  We will also explore Alfred Hitchcock's take on 39 Steps and the Czech New Wave manifesto film, Pearls of the Deep.  With theoretical readings by: Roland Barthes, Viktor Shklovsky, Erich Auerbach,  Paul Ricoeur, and others.