Courses

Subject Code

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)

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

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
HIST 34005,NEHC 20573,HIST 24005,NEHC 30573,CMLT 23401,CMLT 33401
Autumn
2019-2020
Literature and Linguistics course

What makes it possible for the imagined communities called nations to command the emotional attachments that they do? This course considers some possible answers to Benedict Anderson's question on the basis of material from the Balkans. We will examine the transformation of the scenario of paradise, loss, and redemption into a template for a national identity narrative through which South East European nations retell their Ottoman past. With the help of Žižek's theory of the subject as constituted by trauma and Kant's notion of the sublime, we will contemplate the national fixation on the trauma of loss and the dynamic between victimhood and sublimity.

REES 27029 / 37029
Survival

Bozena Shallcross
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
JWSC 27029
Autumn
2019-2020
Literature and Linguistics course

This course will discuss the complex experience of survival, its forms and conceptualizations. Not limited to a historical discourse, the course's content and scope are framed by modernity, beginning in the 19th century biological notion of survival through its subsequent milestone articulation by Franz Rosenzweig and concluding in the selective reading from a plethora of post-Holocaust writings. What does it mean to survive? According to those who during WWII lived on the narrow threshold between life and death and survived its precariousness, survival depended on diverse rational and irrational factors such as faith (extrinsic or intrinsic), health, age, wealth, egoism, coincidence, hope, and luck that often verge on the miraculous; thus, no discursive centrality would be ascribed to any of the forms of survival under our investigation. During the course we will become familiar with historical, philosophical, and biographical accounts of survival.

REES 26660 / 36661
The Rise of the Global New Right

Leah M. Feldman
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 26660,CMLT 36660,ENGL 26660,SIGN 26050,CRES 26660,CRES 36660,ENGL 36661
Autumn
2019-2020
Literature and Linguistics course

This course traces the intellectual genealogies of the rise of a Global New Right in relation to the contexts of late capitalist neoliberalism, the fall of the Soviet Union, as well as the rise of social media. The course will explore the intertwining political and intellectual histories of the Russian Eurasianist movement, Hungarian Jobbik, the American Traditional Workers Party, the French GRECE, Greek Golden Dawn, and others through their published essays, blogs, vlogs and social media. Perhaps most importantly, the course asks: can we use f-word (fascism) to describe this problem? In order to pose this question we will explore the aesthetic concerns of the New Right in relation to postmodern theory, and the affective politics of nationalism. This course thus frames the rise of a global new right interdisciplinary and comparatively as a historical, geopolitical and aesthetic problem.

REES 26011
Introduction to Russian Civilization I

Faith Hillis (1); William Nickell (2)
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
HIST 13900,SOSC 24000
Autumn
2019-2020
Literature and Linguistics course

The first quarter covers the ninth century to the 1870s; the second quarter continues on through the post-Soviet period. Working closely with a variety of primary sources-from oral legends to film and music, from political treatises to literary masterpieces-we will track the evolution of Russian civilization over the centuries and through radically different political regimes. Topics to be discussed include the influence of Byzantine, Mongol-Tataric, and Western culture in Russian civilization; forces of change and continuity in political, intellectual and cultural life; the relationship between center and periphery; systems of social and political legitimization; and symbols and practices of collective identity.

REES 24421
Women's Work: Agents of Change in Central and Eastern Europe

Cheryl Stephenson
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Autumn
2019-2020
Literature and Linguistics course

This course explores the role of women in both making and unmaking socialism in Central and Eastern Europe. While we begin with women's direct engagement in political discourse and government, the scope of the course will expand to engage with women writers, artists, performers, scholars, and dissidents who drove social change through the twentieth century in the Eastern Bloc.

REES 24420
Russian Short Fiction: Experiments in Form

Kaitlyn Sorenson
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Autumn
2019-2020
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. We will attend to the formal characteristics of these texts, analyze their approach to storytelling, and ultimately question what these texts reveal about our appetite for narrative. Authors sampled include: Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Platonov, Nabokov, Tolstaya, and many others! No prior knowledge of Russian language or literature is required.

REES 24110 / 34110
The Soviet Empire

Leah M. Feldman
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 24111,NEHC 24110,NEHC 34110,CMLT 34111,REES 34110
Autumn
2019-2020
Literature and Linguistics course

What kind of empire was the Soviet Union? Focusing on the central idea of Eurasia, we will explore how discourses of gender, sexuality and ethnicity operated under the multinational empire. How did communism shape the state's regulation of the bodies of its citizens? How did genres from the realist novel to experimental film challenge a cohesive patriarchal, Russophone vision of Soviet Eurasia? We will examine how writers and filmmakers in the Caucasus and Central Asia answered Soviet Orientalist imaginaries, working through an interdisciplinary archive drawing literature and film from the Soviet colonial 'periphery' in the Caucasus and Central Asia as well as writings about the hybrid conception of Eurasia across linguistics, anthropology, and geography.

REES 23812 / 33812
Russia and the West, 18th-21st Centuries

Eleonora Gilburd
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
HIST 23812,HIST 33812,REES 33812
Autumn
2019-2020
Literature and Linguistics course

There are few problems as enduring and central to Russian history as the question of the West-Russia's most passionate romance and most bitter letdown. In this course we will read and think about Russia from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries through the lens of this obsession. We will study the products of Russian interactions with the West: constitutional projects, paintings, scientific and economic thought, the Westernizer-Slavophile controversy, and revolutions. We will consider the presence of European communities in Russia: German and British migrants who filled important niches in state service, trade, and scholarship; Italian sculptors and architects who designed some of Russia's most famous monuments; French expatriates in the wake of the French Revolution; Communist workers and intellectuals, refugees from Nazi Germany; and Western journalists who, in the late Soviet decades, trafficked illicit ideas, texts, and artworks. In the end, we will follow émigré Russians to Europe and the United States and return to present-day Russia to examine the anti-Western turn in its political and cultural discourse.

REES 21002 / 31002
Kieslowski's French Cinema

Bozena Shallcross
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMST 34405,FNDL 25312,CMST 24405,CMLT 24405
Autumn
2019-2020
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 29010 / 39010
20th Century Russian & South East European Emigre Literature

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 26912; CMLT 36912
Spring
2019-2020
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 29024 / 39024
States of Surveillance

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 29024,CMLT 39024
Autumn
2019-2020
Literature and Linguistics course
What does it feel to be watched and listened to all the time? Literary and cinematic works give us a glimpse into the experience of living under surveillance and explore the human effects of surveillance - the fraying of intimacy, fracturing sense of self, testing the limits of what it means to be human. Works from the former Soviet Union (Solzhenitsyn, Abram Tertz, Andrey Zvyagintsev), former Yugoslavia (Ivo Andrić, Danilo Kiš, Dušan Kovačević), Romania (Norman Manea, Cristian Mungiu), Bulgaria (Valeri Petrov), and Albania (Ismail Kadare).
 

 

REES 23708 / 0
Soviet History Through Literature

Eleonora Gilburd
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
HIST 23708
Winter
2019-2020
Literature and Linguistics course

This course considers the main themes of Soviet history through canonical works of fiction, with an occasional addition of excerpts from autobiographies, memories, and police files.

REES 20001 / 30001
War and Peace

William Nickell
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 22301; CMLT 32301; ENGL 28912; ENGL 32302; FNDL 27103; HIST 23704
Spring
2019-2020
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 23108
Contact Linguistics

Salikoko Mufwene
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
LING 20001 or consent of instructor
Crosslists: 
LING 26310; LING 36310
Spring
2019-2020
Literature and Linguistics course

This seminar focuses on current research in contact linguistics in a global perspective, including but not limited to the impact of languages of wider communication (e.g. English, Russian) in contact with other languages. Topics to be covered include the following: language/dialect contact, convergence and language shift resulting in attrition and language endangerment and loss. Other contact-induced linguistic changes and processes to be considered include borrowing, code-switching, code-shifting, diglossia, loss of linguistic restrictions and grammatical permeability, and the impact of language contact in the emergence and/or historical development of languages.

REES 22000 / 32000
Kafka in Prague

Malynne Steinstern
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
GRMN 29600; GRMN 39600
Spring
2019-2020
Literature and Linguistics course

The goal of this course is a thorough treatment of Kafka's literary work in its Central European, more specifically Czech, context. In critical scholarship, Kafka and his work are often alienated from his Prague milieu. The course revisits the Prague of Kafka's time, with particular reference to Josefov (the Jewish ghetto), Das Prager Deutsch, and Czech/German/Jewish relations of the prewar and interwar years. We discuss most of Kafka's major prose works within this context and beyond (including The Castle, The Trial, and the stories published during his lifetime), as well as selected critical approaches to his work.

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

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 29023; CMLT 39023; HIST 23609; HIST 33609; NEHC 29023; NEHC 39023
Winter
2019-2020
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 29009 / 39009
Balkan Folklore

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 23301; ANTH 35908; NEHC 30568; CMLT 33301; ANTH 25908; NEHC 20568
Winter
2019-2020
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 first-hand through visits of a Chicago-based folk dance ensemble, “Balkan Dance.”

REES 27003 / 37003
Narratives of Assimilation

Bozena Shallcross
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
NEHC 20223; NEHC 30223; RLST 26623
Winter
2019-2020
Literature and Linguistics course

This course offers a survey into the manifold strategies of representing the Jewish community in East Central Europe beginning from the nineteenth century to the Holocaust. Engaging the concept of liminality-of a society at the threshold of radical transformation-it will analyze Jewry facing uncertainties and challenges of the modern era and its radical changes. Students will be acquainted with problems of cultural and linguistic isolation, hybrid identity, assimilation, and cultural transmission through a wide array of genres-novel, short story, epic poem, memoir, painting, illustration, film. The course draws on both Jewish and Polish-Jewish sources; all texts are read in English translation.

REES 26012
Introduction to Russian Civilization II

Faith Hillis (1); William Nickell (2)
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
Taking these courses in sequence is recommended but not required.
Crosslists: 
HIST 14000; SOSC 24100
Winter
2019-2020
Literature and Linguistics course

The first quarter covers the ninth century to the 1870s; the second quarter continues on through the post-Soviet period. Working closely with a variety of primary sources—from oral legends to film and music, from political treatises to literary masterpieces—we will track the evolution of Russian civilization over the centuries and through radically different political regimes. Topics to be discussed include the influence of Byzantine, Mongol-Tataric, and Western culture in Russian civilization; forces of change and continuity in political, intellectual, and cultural life; the relationship between center and periphery; systems of social and political legitimization; and symbols and practices of collective identity.

REES 25005 / 45005
History Of International Cinema II

Staff
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
Prior or concurrent registration in CMST 10100 required. Required of students majoring or minoring in Cinema and Media Studies. CMST 28500/48500 strongly recommended.
Crosslists: 
ARTH 28600; ARTH 38600; ARTV 20003; CMLT 22500; CMLT 32500; CMST 48600; ENGL 29600; ENGL 48900; MAAD 18600; MAPH 33700
Winter
2019-2020
Literature and Linguistics course

The center of this course is film style, from the classical scene breakdown to the introduction of deep focus, stylistic experimentation, and technical innovation (sound, wide screen, location shooting). The development of a film culture is also discussed. Texts include Thompson and Bordwell's Film History: An Introduction; and works by Bazin, Belton, Sitney, and Godard. Screenings include films by Hitchcock, Welles, Rossellini, Bresson, Ozu, Antonioni, and Renoir.

REES 24007 / 0
Chernobyl: Bodies And Nature After Disaster

Peggy Odonnell
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
ENST 24007; GNSE 24007; HIST 24007
Winter
2019-2020
Literature and Linguistics course

When reactor number 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station exploded, it quickly made headlines around the world. Swedes found radiation in their air, Germans in their milk, Greeks in their grain, and Britons in their sheep. Ukrainians and Belarusians found it in their rain, wind, water sources, homes, and in their children's thyroids. Americans worried about finding it in their bodies, especially in pregnant or fetal bodies. A lot of roads led to the Chernobyl disaster: the Soviet state system, to be sure, but also the Cold War arms race, a faith in scientific progress shared in East and West, and a global disregard for the natural world and the human body. This course will follow those roads to the climax of the explosion and then examine the many paths out of Chernobyl: the disaster's aftereffects on geopolitics, environmentalism, feminism, and body politics. We will draw on a recent outpouring of scholarly and popular works on Chernobyl, including books, podcasts, and television series. We will also read texts on feminism, environmentalism, and other nuclear disasters, Cold War histories, and fiction to provide context and sites for further inquiry.

REES 29021 / 39021
The Shadows of Living Things: The Writings of Mikhail Bulgakov

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
FNDL 29020
Spring
2019-2020
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 the 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 20001 / 30001
War and Peace

William Nickell
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Winter
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course

Written in the wake of the Crimean War (1856) and the emancipation of the serfs (1861), Tolstoy's War and Peace represents Russia's most important national narrative. Tolstoy chooses to set his tale during the Napoleonic wars, the epoch commonly regarded as the moment of national awakening, which gave rise to major social and political transformations within the Russian society that were still underway at the time when Tolstoy wrote and published his epic. Reading War and Peace we not only learn a lot about Russian history and culture, but  also have a rare chance to visit the writer's workshop and witness the creation of a completely original, organic work of art. It is a telling fact that Tolstoy's novel-epic-a unique hybrid of several different genres deliberately designed as a riposte to the typical West European novel - was never finalized, because after publishing this work in a serial form in a leading "thick journal" Tolstoy continued to return to War and Peace throughout the rest of his life. This course will focus on both the artistic and intellectual facets of War and Peace. This course is recommended for students interested in Russian and European literature, history and political science as well as those who are building a Fundamentals major. The course is open to all undergraduates and some graduate students (by consent). Reading, discussion and papers will be in English.

REES 25005 / 45005
History of International Cinema, Part II: Sound Era to 1960

Robert Bird
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Winter
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course

The center of this course is film style, from the classical scene breakdown to the introduction of deep focus, stylistic experimentation, and technical innovation (sound, wide screen, location shooting). The development of a film culture is also discussed. Texts include Thompson and Bordwell's Film History: An Introduction; and works by Bazin, Belton, Sitney, and Godard. Screenings include films by Hitchcock, Welles, Rossellini, Bresson, Ozu, Antonioni, and Renoir.

REES 25603 / 35603
Media and Power in the Age of Putin and Trump

William Nickell
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Winter
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course

Over the past 200 years, various political and cultural regimes of Russia have systematically exploited the gap between experience and representation to create their own mediated worlds--from the tight censorship of the imperial and Soviet periods to the propaganda of the Soviet period and the recent use of media simulacra for strategic geopolitical advantage. During this same period state control of media has been used to seclude Russia from the advancement of liberalism, market economics, individual rights, modernist art, Freud, Existentialism, and, more recently, Western discourses of inclusion, sustainability, and identity. Examining this history, it is sometimes difficult to discern whether the architects of Russian culture have been hopelessly backward or shrewd phenomenologists, keenly aware of the relativity of experience and of their ability to shape it. This course will explore the worlds that these practices produce, with an emphasis on Russia's recent confrontations with Western culture and power, and including various practices of subversion of media control, such as illegal printing and circulation. Texts for the course will draw from print, sound, and visual media, and fields of analysis will include aesthetics, cultural history, and media theory. 

REES 23115 / 33115
Old Church Slavonic

Yaroslav Gorbachov
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
LING 23115; LING 35100
Autumn
2018-2019
Language course

This course is an introduction to the language of the oldest Slavic texts. It begins with a brief historical overview of the relationship of Old Church Slavonic to Common Slavic and the other Slavic languages. This is followed by a short outline of Old Church Slavonic inflectional morphology. The remainder of the course is spent in the reading and grammatical analysis of original texts in Cyrillic or Cyrillic transcription of the original Glagolitic.

REES 29024 / 39024
States of Surveillance

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 29024,CMLT 39024
Autumn
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course

What does it feel to be watched and listened to all the time? Literary and cinematic works give us a glimpse into the experience of living under surveillance and explore the human effects of surveillance - the fraying of intimacy, fracturing sense of self, testing the limits of what it means to be human. Works from the former Soviet Union (Solzhenitsyn, Abram Tertz, Andrey Zvyagintsev), former Yugoslavia (Ivo Andrić, Danilo Kiš, Dušan Kovačević), Romania (Norman Manea, Cristian Mungiu), Bulgaria (Valeri Petrov), and Albania (Ismail Kadare).

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

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
HIST 34005, NEHC 20573,HIST 24005,NEHC 30573,CMLT 23401,CMLT 33401
Autumn
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course

What makes it possible for the imagined communities called nations to command the emotional attachments that they do? This course considers some possible answers to Benedict Anderson's question on the basis of material from the Balkans. We will examine the transformation of the scenario of paradise, loss, and redemption into a template for a national identity narrative through which South East European nations retell their Ottoman past. With the help of Žižek's theory of the subject as constituted by trauma and Kant's notion of the sublime, we will contemplate the national fixation on the trauma of loss and the dynamic between victimhood and sublimity.

REES 26077 / 36077
Russian Modernist Theater

William Nickell
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Autumn
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course

Russian Modernist Theater explores the theory and practice of the new stage forms developed in Russia from 1900 to 1940. The course begins with the Stanislavsky school, and then delves deeply into the more experimental work of Meyerhold and his generation and the first attempts to create a revolutionary Soviet theater in the 1920s. The course will include a production, which will be scaled to the number and ambitions of the enrolled students. Course requirements can be met through the writing of a conventional paper, or through the production, via set or costume design, dramaturgy, performance, or staging. Each of these production assignments will require a write-up relating the work to the course materials and discussions.

REES 26071 / 36071
Film and Revolution

Robert Bird
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMST 24521; CMST 34521
Spring
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course

On the fiftieth anniversary of 1968 our course couples the study of revolutionary films (and films about revolution) with seminal readings on revolutionary ideology and on the theory of film and video. The goal will be to articulate the mechanics of revolution and its representation in time-based media. Students will produce a video or videos adapting the rich archive of revolutionary film for today's situation. The films screened will be drawn primarily from Soviet and US cinema, from the 1920s to the present day, proceeding more or less chronologically. We begin with newsreels and a "poetic documentary" by Dziga Vertov; they will be paired with classic readings from revolutionary theory, from Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin to Fidel Castro and Bill Ayres, and from film theory, including Vertov, Andre Bazin and Jean-Luc Godard. Readings will acquaint students with contemporary assessments of the emancipatory potential of film.

REES 26011
Intro to Russian Civilization-1

William Nickell, Eleonora Gilburd; Kaitlyn Tucker
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
Taking these courses in sequence is recommended but not required
Crosslists: 
HIST 13900; SOSC 24000
Autumn
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course

The first quarter covers the ninth century to the 1870s; the second quarter continues on through the post-Soviet period. Working closely with a variety of primary sources-from oral legends to film and music, from political treatises to literary masterpieces-we will track the evolution of Russian civilization over the centuries and through radically different political regimes. Topics to be discussed include the influence of Byzantine, Mongol-Tataric, and Western culture in Russian civilization; forces of change and continuity in political, intellectual and cultural life; the relationship between center and periphery; systems of social and political legitimization; and symbols and practices of collective identity.

REES 26012
Intro to Russian Civilization-2

Robert Bird
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
Taking these courses in sequence is recommended but not required
Crosslists: 
HIST 14000, SOSC 24100
Winter
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course

This two-quarter sequence, which meets the general education requirement in civilization studies, provides an interdisciplinary introduction to Russian civilization. The first quarter covers the ninth century to the 1870s; the second quarter continues on through the post-Soviet period. Working closely with a variety of primary sources-from oral legends to film and music, from political treatises to literary masterpieces-we will track the evolution of Russian civilization over the centuries and through radically different political regimes. Topics to be discussed include the influence of Byzantine, Mongol-Tataric, and Western culture in Russian civilization; forces of change and continuity in political, intellectual and cultural life; the relationship between center and periphery; systems of social and political legitimization; and symbols and practices of collective identity. Note: Taking these courses in sequence is recommended but not required.

REES 27027 / 37027
Cinema and the Holocaust

Bozena Shallcross
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
Film screenings, class participation, reading assignments, one class presentation, and a final project.
Crosslists: 
CMST 22507, CMST 32507, JWSC 29550
Winter
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course
he course focuses on the cinematic responses by several leading film directors from East and Central Europe to one of the central events of 20th century history -- the event known as the Holocaust.  The Nazis began a cinematic documentation of WWII at its onset, positioning their cameras in places of actual atrocities. Their goal was to produce documentary footage framed by hostile propagandistic schemes; contrary to this ‘method’, the Holocaust feature films are all but a representation of the Jewish genocide produced after the actual, traumatic events of that war took place. In this class we aim at discussing the challenge of representing the Jewish genocide which has often been defined as un-representable. Because of this challenge, the Holocaust films raise questions of ethical responsibility for the cinematic production and a search for relevant artistic means with which to engage the post-traumatic representation. Therefore, among the major tropes we will analyze the voyeuristic evocation of death and suffering; a truthful representation of violence versus the purported necessity of its cinematic aesthetization; as well as the intertwined notions of chance and hope as conditions of survival versus the hagiographic representation of victims.  While our main goal is to grasp the potential of cinema for deepening our understanding of the Holocaust, the course simultaneously explores the extensive and continuous cinematic production of the genre and its historical development in various European countries, to mention the impact of censorship by official ideologies in the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia during the Cold War.
 

All readings for the core texts are in English; they can be downloaded from Canvas.
 

REES 29009 / 39009
Balkan Folklore

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
Readings in English. Background in the Balkans will make the course easier, but is not required.
Crosslists: 
ANTH 25908, ANTH 35908, CMLT 23301, CMLT 33301, NEHC 20568, NEHC 30568
Winter
2018-2019
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 47000
Time and Memory

Harriet Murav
Course level: 
Graduate
Spring
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course

At the beginning of the 20th century moderns and modernists announced their break with the past and launched various artistic , philosophical, political, and social experiments that claimed to construct society and the individual anew. The machine, speed, technology, and the future were the watchwords of Futurists and other modernist groups. Revolutionary transformation on all fronts was the way forward. In the same period advances in science and technology radically changed the horizon of possibility. Yet other important artists and thinkers offered the contrasting view that the past remains alive in the present—both in individuals and in human cultures. Memory was key to the future. This seminar focuses on the second tendency by examining the work of three theorists—Henri Bergson, Walter Benjamin, Victor Shklovsky—and three literary authors—Victor Shklovsky, Virginia Woolf, and Osip Mandelshtam.

REES 24418
Ruining Chekhov: Reading and Staging the Modernist Play

Cheryl Stephenson
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Spring
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course
"Stanislavski has ruined my play!" Anton Chekhov's notoriously negative response to Konstantin Stanislavski's production of The Cherry Orchard at the Moscow Art Theater provides the point of departure for this course and its examination of both Chekhov's plays and their production history in Russia, the Soviet Union, and abroad. As we investigate the texts, performances, and non-theatrical adaptations of The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard, we will explore the particular problems of reading and staging Chekhov, whose often sparse stage directions and ambiguous dialogue create the potential for strikingly different interpretations. Through questioning this openness and other defining features of Chekhov's plays, we will study the ways these productions changed and adapted to new countries, new political contexts, and new tendencies in theater and performance throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Over the course of the quarter, we will bring together our discussion of the stage and screen history of these works together with our own ideas about potential approaches to staging or adapting Chekhov's works.
 

 

REES 49701
Colloquium: Cultural Cold War

Eleonora Gilburd
Course level: 
Graduate
Spring
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course

In this course we will consider culture wars amidst the Cold War. We will range across media and aesthetic schools to examine the entanglement of art and politics, culture and diplomacy, creativity and propaganda, consumerism and the avant-garde, nuclear aspirations and dystopian visions, artistic freedom and police operations. The course's basic premise is that, notwithstanding the bipolar world it created, the Cold War was a multisided affair, so our readings will extend beyond the United States and the Soviet Union to include various national contexts.

REES 29021 / 39021
The Shadows of Living Things: the Writings of Mikhail Bulgakov

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Spring
2018-2019
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 29018 / 39018
Imaginary Worlds:Fantastic & Magic Realism in Russia& SE Europe

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 27701, CMLT 37701, RUSS 27300, RUSS 37300
Spring
2018-2019
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 13803
The Soviet Union

Eleonora Gilburd
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
HIST 13803
Spring
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course

This lecture course surveys the making and unmaking of the Soviet Union as a society, culture, economy, superpower, and empire from 1917 to 1991. The Soviet Union began as an unprecedented radical experiment in remaking society and economy, ethnic and gender relations, personal identities, even human nature. In the course of its history, it came to resemble other (capitalist) societies, sharing, in turn, their violence, welfare provisions, and consumerism. The story of this transformation—from being unique and exhilarating to being much like everyone else, only poorer and more drab—will be at the center of our exploration. The main themes of the course include social and cultural revolutions; ideology and the role of Marxism; political violence from the birth of the socialist state to the end of the Stalin terror; Stalinism, its origins, practices, aesthetics, legacies, and critiques; law, dissent, and human rights; nationality policies and the role of ethnic minorities; the economy of shortages and the material culture it created; institutions of daily life (communal apartments, courtyards, peasant markets, dachas, and boiler rooms); socialist realism and the Soviet dreamworld.

REES 26065 / 36065
The Underground: Alienation, Mobilization, Resistance

Robert Bird
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Spring
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course

The ancient and multivalent image of the underground has crystallized over the last two centuries to denote sites of disaffection from—and strategies of resistance to—dominant social, political and cultural systems. We will trace the development of this metaphor from the Underground Railroad in the mid-1800s and the French Resistance during World War II to the Weather Underground in the 1960s-1970s, while also considering it as a literary and artistic concept, from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground and Ellison’s Invisible Man to Chris Marker’s film La Jetée and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker. Alongside with such literary and cinematic tales, drawing theoretical guidance from refuseniks from Henry David Thoreau to Guy Debord, this course investigates how countercultural spaces become—or fail to become—sites of political resistance, and also how dissenting ideologies give rise to countercultural spaces. We ask about the relation between social deviance (the failure to meet social norms, whether willingly or unwittingly) and political resistance, especially in the conditions of late capitalism and neo-colonialism, when countercultural literature, film and music (rock, punk, hip-hop, DIY aesthetics etc.) get absorbed into—and coopted by—the hegemonic socio-economic system. In closing we will also consider contemporary forms of dissidence—from Pussy Riot to Black Lives Matter—that rely both on the vulnerability of individual bodies and global communication networks.

REES 27028 / 37028
David Bergelson’s Strange New World

Harriet Murav
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Spring
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course

This course introduces the Yiddish modernist David Bergelson (1884-1952) by putting him in dialogue with Anton Chekhov, Vladimir Nabokov, and Isaac Babel. The comparisons place us in three settings: the provinces, in exile in Berlin, and along the revolutionary border. In Chekhov’s Three Sisters and Bergelson’s The End of Everything characters are bored and sense their own belatedness; they’ve missed the main event that is taking place elsewhere, including the joy of their own lives. In Bergelson’s and Nabokov’s Berlin stories, displaced characters find themselves in a strange city of  surfaces and shadows, offering both new pleasures and the unbidden return of the past. In Bergelson’s Judgment and Babel’s Red Cavalry violence and a new, harsh law line the joy and freedom of revolution. In the works to be examined, both time and place are out of joint. Particular attention will be given to the language and literary structures that reproduce-- as an effect of reading-- the temporal and spatial shifts experienced by the characters. No Yiddish or Russian required.

 

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

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 23401,CMLT 33401,NEHC 20573,NEHC 30573,HIST 24005,HIST 34005
Winter
2018-2019
Literature and Linguistics course

The Other Within the Self: Identity in Balkan Literature and Film. This two-course sequence examines discursive practices in a number of literary and cinematic works from the South East corner of Europe through which identities in the region become defined by two distinct others: the “barbaric, demonic” Ottoman and the “civilized” Western European.

This course begins by defining the nation both historically and conceptually, with attention to Romantic nationalism and its flourishing in Southeastern Europe. We then look at the narrative of original wholeness, loss, and redemption through which Balkan countries retell their Ottoman past. With the help of Freud's analysis of masochistic desire and Žižek's theory of the subject as constituted by trauma, we contemplate the national fixation on the trauma of loss and the dynamic between victimhood and sublimity. The figure of the Janissary highlights the significance of the other in the definition of the self. Some possible texts are Petar Njegoš's Mountain Wreath; Ismail Kadare's The Castle; and Anton Donchev's Time of Parting.

REES 23900
Lolita

Malynne Sternstein
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
FNDL 25300, ENGL 28916
Spring
2017-2018
Literature and Linguistics course

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul, Lolita: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate, to tap at three on the teeth.” Popular as Nabokov’s “all-American” novel is, it is rarely discussed beyond its psychosexual profile. This intensive text-centered and discussion-based course attempts to supersede the univocal obsession with the novel’s pedophiliac plot as such by concerning itself above all with the novel’s language: language as failure, as mania, and as conjuration.

REES 27003 / 37003
Narratives of Assimilation

Bozena Shallcross
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
ISHU 29405,FNDL 26903
Autumn
2017-2018
Literature and Linguistics course

This course offers a survey into the manifold strategies of representing the Jewish community in East Central Europe beginning from the nineteenth century to the Holocaust. Engaging the concept of liminality—of a society at the threshold of radical transformation—it will analyze Jewry facing uncertainties and challenges of the modern era and its radical changes. Students will be acquainted with problems of cultural and linguistic isolation, hybrid identity, assimilation, and cultural transmission through a wide array of genres—novel, short story, epic poem, memoir, painting, illustration, film. The course draws on both Jewish and Polish-Jewish sources; all texts are read in English translation.

REES 36067
The Aesthetics of Socialist Realism

Robert Bird; Christina Kiaer
Course level: 
Graduate
Prerequisites: 
Course meetings will be divided evenly between the campuses of Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.
Crosslists: 
CMST 44510, ARTH 44502
Autumn
2017-2018
Literature and Linguistics course

Although Socialist Realism has been dismissed as propaganda or kitsch, this interdisciplinary seminar will take it seriously as the aesthetic project of socialism, with its particularly sensory or haptic address to its audiences. Reflecting on Socialist Realism on the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution of October 1917, our premise is that it challenged the assumptions of Western art, including the concept of the avant-garde and the art market itself, offering an alternate model of revolutionary cultural practice and a potentially liberatory politics of gender and race. The seminar will focus on Soviet visual art, cinema and writing during the 1930s under Stalin, and will be co-taught with Prof. Christina Kiaer of Art History at Northwestern University. The seminar will have a special emphasis on female makers and the representation of women’s experience, because it will draw on the Fall 2017 exhibition Revolution Every Day at the Smart Museum of Art (http://smartmuseum.uchicago.edu/exhibitions/revolution-every-day/), which is co-curated by the professors; it will also take advantage of the Art Institute’s major fall exhibition Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test, to which Prof. Kiaer contributed, as well as the film programming related to these shows. The seminar will include students from both universities, meeting alternate weeks at the Northwestern and U of C campuses (assistance with organizing transportation will be provided). We welcome students with research interests that extend beyond Soviet Russia in the 1930s.

REES 29024 / 39024
States of Surveillance

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 29024, CMLT 39024
Autumn
2017-2018
Literature and Linguistics course

What does it feel to be watched and listened to all the time? Literary and cinematic works give us a glimpse into the experience of living under surveillance and explore the human effects of surveillance – the fraying of intimacy, fracturing sense of self, testing the limits of what it means to be human. Works from the former Soviet Union (Solzhenitsyn, Abram Tertz, Andrey Zvyagintsev), former Yugoslavia (Ivo Andrić, Danilo Kiš, Dušan Kovačević), Romania (Norman Manea, Cristian Mungiu), Bulgaria (Valeri Petrov), and Albania (Ismail Kadare).

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

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 29023, CMLT 39023, NEHC 29023, NEHC 39023
Autumn
2017-2018
Literature and Linguistics course

This course provides insight into the existential predicament of internalized otherness. We investigate 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 will first examine the historical and theoretical context. In the European peripheries, the emergence into political sovereignty and national culture, and the formation of a national self as modern political subject, are predicated on the importation of the economic center’s civilizational models. The very inception of modern peripheral national identity is marked by an acute sense of having already fallen behind. In this way, the periphery internalizes its own otherness.

We will then focus on self-representational strategies of the “Rest” (in our case Southeastern Europe and Russia), and the inherent internalization of the imagined western gaze whom the collective peripheral selves aim to seduce but also defy. Two discourse on identity will help us understand these self-representations: the Lacanian concepts of symbolic and imaginary identification, and various readings of the Hegelian recognition by the other in the East European context. Identifying symbolically with a site of normative humanity outside oneself places the self in a precarious position. The responses are varied but acutely felt: from self-consciousness to defiance and arrogance, to self-exoticization and self-mythicization, to self-abjection, all of which can be viewed as forms of a quest for dignity. We will also consider how these responses have been incorporated in the texture of the national, gender, and social identities in European and other peripheries. Fyodor Dostoevsky, Orhan Pamuk, Ivo Andrić, Nikos Kazantzakis, Aleko Konstantinov, Emir Kusturica, Milcho Manchevski.

REES 24410
Animation in the Eastern Bloc

Cheryl Stephenson
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Winter
2017-2018
Literature and Linguistics course
In this course we will explore thematic, aesthetic, and theoretical aspects of animated film in socialist Central and Eastern Europe from the 1920s through the late 1980s. Rather than attempting an exhaustive survey of the region’s animated films and their contexts, we will bring a sampling of films from the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Bulgaria together with readings from the growing body of theoretical and critical works on animated film in hopes of building an understanding of animated film as a medium and of what does (or does not) make the animated films of socialist Central and Eastern Europe unique.

REES 26064 / 36070
Revolution

Robert Bird; Sheila Fitzpatrick
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
HIST 23707, HIST 33707
Autumn
2017-2018
Literature and Linguistics course

Revolution primarily denotes radical political change, but this definition is both too narrow and too broad. Too broad, because since the late eighteenth century revolution has been associated specifically with an emancipatory politics, from American democracy to Soviet communism. Too narrow, because revolutionary political change is always accompanied by change in other spheres, from philosophy to everyday life. We investigate the history of revolution from 1776 to the present, with a particular focus on the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, in order to ascertain how social revolutions have been constituted, conducted and enshrined in political and cultural institutions. We also ask what the conditions and prospects of revolution are today. Readings will be drawn from a variety of fields, from philosophy to social history. Most readings will be primary documents, from Rousseau and Marx to Bill Ayers, but will also include major statements in the historiography of revolution.

REES 22402
Fate and Duty: European Tragedy from Aeschylus to Brecht

Boris Maslov
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 22402
Autumn
2017-2018
Literature and Linguistics course

This class will explore the development of European drama from Attic tragedy and comedy and their reception in Ancient Rome and French Neoclassicism to the transformation of dramatic form in 18-20th c. European literatures. The focus will be on the evolution of plot, characterization, time-and-space of dramatic action, ethical notions (free will, guilt, conscience), as well as on representations of affect. All readings in English. No prerequisites.

REES 27026 / 37026
Kieslowski: The Decalogue

Bozena Shallcross
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
FNDL 24003
Autumn
2017-2018
Literature and Linguistics course

During this course, we study the monumental series of “The Decalogue,” produced by one of the most influential filmmakers from Poland, Krzysztof Kieślowski. Instead of mechanically relating the ten shorter films to the Ten Commandments, we critically explore the relevance of the biblical moral rules to the state of modern man. Each part of the series contests the absolutism of these moral axioms through ethical dilemmas of extreme situations as they occur in the Polish communist space where libidinal and material drives co-exist with familial antagonism and social impassivity. We focus on peculiarities of Kieślowski’s cinematic storytelling, while analyzing deontological ethics’ dis-alignment with modernist spirituality and with its subjective turn. An analysis of the films is accompanied by Kieślowski and Piesiewicz’s screen scripts, as well as by readings from Kieślowski’s own writings and interviews; some criticism by Zizek, Kickasola, Haltof is included. All materials are in English.

REES 20011 / 30011
Gogol

Esther Peters
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Autumn
2017-2018
Literature and Linguistics course

One of the most enigmatic authors in Russian literature, Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852) was hailed in his own lifetime as the leading prose writer of his generation, a brilliant comic writer, and the innovator of the new school of Russian Naturalism/Realism. Since his death, Gogol has been the subject of ever-greater critical controversy. Reading representative works from each period of Gogol's career, including his Petersburg Tales and Dead Souls, we will trace the author's creative development and consider it in relation to his biography and early 19th-century Russian literary and social history. We will work together to identify the characteristic features of Gogol's narrative technique as well as the challenges to interpretation his texts pose. No knowledge of Russian required.

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
2017-2018
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.

REES 29018 / 39018
Imaginary Worlds:Fantastic & Magic Realism in Russia & Southeastern Europe

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
Readings in English. Background in Russia and the Balkans will make the course easier, but is not required.
Crosslists: 
CMLT 27701, CMLT 37701
Spring
2017-2018
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 29021 / 39021
The Shadows of Living Things: the Writings of Mikhail Bulgakov

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
FNDL 29020
Spring
2017-2018
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 26027 / 36027
Jewish Writers in the Russian Tradition

William Nickell
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
JWSC 20234
Spring
2017-2018
Literature and Linguistics course

Considers the experience of Jewish national subjectivity under conditions of Russian and Soviet empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. While attentive to practices of physical marginalization and assimilation (the Pale of Settlement, Birobidzhan), we will focus mainly on the literary record in works by Dostoevsky, Solovyov, Kovner, Babel, An-sky, Bagritsky, Grossman, Ehrenburg, and Brodsky. The syllabus also includes works in theatre, painting and film, as well as important critical texts on subjectivity and post-colonial theory.

REES 21006 / 31006
Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent: (In)action, Surveillance, Terrorism

Bozena Shallcross
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
FNDL 21006
Winter
2017-2018
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 of Polish ilk, we consider the biographical connection, such as his family members’ radical (“Red”) social agenda of the abolishment of serfdom. In analyzing the formation of the narrative’s ideology we analyze 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 but influential readings of the novel’s political and social dimension, as well as the most recent pronouncements of its complexity. All texts are in English.

REES 25603 / 35603
Media and Power in the Age of Putin and Trump

William Nickell
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
SIGN 26029
Winter
2017-2018
Literature and Linguistics course

Over the past 200 years, various political and cultural regimes of Russia have systematically exploited the gap between experience and representation to create their own mediated worlds--from the tight censorship of the imperial and Soviet periods to the propaganda of the Soviet period and the recent use of media simulacra for strategic geopolitical advantage. During this same period state control of media has been used to seclude Russia from the advancement of liberalism, market economics, individual rights, modernist art, Freud, Existentialism, and, more recently, Western discourses of inclusion, sustainability, and identity. Examining this history, it is sometimes difficult to discern whether the architects of Russian culture have been hopelessly backward or shrewd phenomenologists, keenly aware of the relativity of experience and of their ability to shape it. This course will explore the worlds that these practices produce, with an emphasis on Russia's recent confrontations with Western culture and power, and including various practices of subversion of media control, such as illegal printing and circulation. Texts for the course will draw from print, sound, and visual media, and fields of analysis will include aesthetics, cultural history, and media theory. 

REES 26068 / 36068
The Underground: Alienation, Mobilization, Resistance

Robert Bird
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
SIGN 26012; CMST 24568/CMST 34568
Winter
2017-2018
Literature and Linguistics course

The ancient and multivalent image of the underground has crystallized over the last two centuries to denote sites of disaffection from—and strategies of resistance to—dominant social, political and cultural systems. We will trace the development of this metaphor from the Underground Railroad in the mid-1800s and the French Resistance during World War II to the Weather Underground in the 1960s-1970s, while also considering it as a literary and artistic concept, from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground and Ellison’s Invisible Man to Chris Marker’s film La Jetée and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker. Alongside with such literary and cinematic tales, drawing theoretical guidance from refuseniks from Henry David Thoreau to Guy Debord, this course investigates how countercultural spaces become—or fail to become—sites of political resistance, and also how dissenting ideologies give rise to countercultural spaces. We ask about the relation between social deviance (the failure to meet social norms, whether willingly or unwittingly) and political resistance, especially in the conditions of late capitalism and neo-colonialism, when countercultural literature, film and music (rock, punk, hip-hop, DIY aesthetics etc.) get absorbed into—and coopted by—the hegemonic socio-economic system. In closing we will also consider contemporary forms of dissidence—from Pussy Riot to Black Lives Matter—that rely both on the vulnerability of individual bodies and global communication networks.

REES 26075 / 36075
Science Fiction in Eastern Europe and Russia

Esther Peters
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Winter
2017-2018
Literature and Linguistics course

In this course we will examine the cultural, historical, and political contexts of some of the great works of science fiction from Eastern Europe and Russia through literature like (but not limited to) Karel Čapek’s R.U.R. (origin of the robot), Evgenii Zamiatin’s dystopian novel We (the inspiration for George Orwell’s 1984), and Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris (the inspiration for several film versions including Andrei Tarkovsky’s in 1972). Our primary objective will be to examine how these writers used science fiction to interpret, comment upon, or critique their historical moment. How did these works propose alternate realities? Or how did they engage with the new and changing realities of the 20th century? All readings in English.

REES 27019 / 37019
The Holocaust Object

Bozena Shallcross
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
JWSC 29500, ANTH 23910, ANTH 35035, HIST 23413, HIST 33413
Winter
2017-2018
Literature and Linguistics course

In this course we explore various ontological and representational modes of the Holocaust material object world as it was represented during WWII. Then, we interrogate the post-Holocaust artifacts and material remnants, as they are displayed, curated, controlled, and narrated in the memorial sites and museums of former ghettos, extermination and concentration camps. These sites which – once the locations of genocide – are now places of remembrance, the (post)human, and material remnants, also serve educational purposes. Therefore, we study the ways in which this material world, ranging from infrastructure to detritus, has been subjected to two, often conflicting, tasks of representation and preservation, which we view through a prism of authenticity. In order to study representation, we critically engage a textual and visual reading of museum narrations and fiction writings; to tackle with demands of preservation we apply a neo-materialist approach. Of special interest are survivors’ testimonies as appended to the artifacts they donated. The course will also equip you with salient critical tools for future creative research in the Holocaust studies.

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
2017-2018
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 29013 / 39013
The Burden of History: The Nation and Its Lost Paradise

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 23401,CMLT 33401,NEHC 20573,NEHC 30573,HIST 24005,HIST 34005
Winter
2017-2018
Literature and Linguistics course

The Other Within the Self: Identity in Balkan Literature and Film. This two-course sequence examines discursive practices in a number of literary and cinematic works from the South East corner of Europe through which identities in the region become defined by two distinct others: the “barbaric, demonic” Ottoman and the “civilized” Western European. This course begins by defining the nation both historically and conceptually, with attention to Romantic nationalism and its flourishing in Southeastern Europe. We then look at the narrative of original wholeness, loss, and redemption through which Balkan countries retell their Ottoman past. With the help of Freud's analysis of masochistic desire and Žižek's theory of the subject as constituted by trauma, we contemplate the national fixation on the trauma of loss and the dynamic between victimhood and sublimity. The figure of the Janissary highlights the significance of the other in the definition of the self. Some possible texts are Petar Njegoš's Mountain Wreath; Ismail Kadare's The Castle; and Anton Donchev's Time of Parting.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 29009 / 39009
Balkan Folklore

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
NEHC 20568,NEHC 30568,CMLT 23301,CMLT 33301,ANTH 25908,ANTH 35908
Winter
2015-2016
Literature and Linguistics course

Immerse yourself in the magic world of vampires and dragons, bagpipes and uneven beats, quick-step circle dance. This course give an introduction to Balkan folklore from anthropological, historical/political, and performative perspectives. We become acquainted with folk tales, lyric and epic songs, music, and dance. The work of Milman Parry and Albert Lord, who developed their theory of oral composition through work among epic singers in the Balkans, helps us understand folk tradition as a dynamic process – how is oral tradition transmitted, preserved, changed, forgotten? how do illiterate singers learn their long narrative poems, how do musicians learn to play? We consider the function of different folklore genres in the imagining and maintenance of community and the socialization of the individual. The historical/political part will survey the emergence of folklore studies as a discipline as well as the ways it has served in the formation and propagation of the nation in the Balkans. The class will also experience this living tradition first hand through our in-class workshop with the Chicago based dance ensemble “Balkanski igri.” The Annual Balkan Folklore Spring Festival will be held in March at the International House.

REES 29700
B.A. Paper Workshop

Course level: 
Undergraduate
Autumn Spring Winter
2015-2016
Literature and Linguistics course

REES 29018 / 39018
Imaginary Worlds:Fantastic & Magic Realism in Russia & Southeastern Europe

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
Readings in English. Background in Russia and the Balkans will make the course easier, but is not required.
Crosslists: 
CMLT 27701, CMLT 37701
Spring
2015-2016
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 28002 / 38002
Czech New Wave Cinema

Malynne Sternstein
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMST 24401, CMST 34401
Spring
2015-2016
Literature and Linguistics course

REES 26049 / 36049
The Short Story in Russian Literature

Malynne Sternstein
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Spring
2015-2016
Literature and Linguistics course

The short story demands versatility and resourcefulness of its author, a creativity and a discipline that distinguishes itself from the same needed for the novel. Russian literature is known best for its hulking novels or for its Golden and Silver Age lyrics. In this course, it is the short story in Russian literary history that is explored and investigated as an alternative locus of expression of a separate ontology. Informed by theories of the short story form, in the course we closely scrutinize the short fiction of Pushkin, Gogol', Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Pelevin, Tolstaya, Ulitskaya, among others.

REES 25601 / 35601
Russian Media Culture

William Nickell
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Autumn
2015-2016
Literature and Linguistics course

Over the past 150 years, various political and cultural regimes of Russia have systematically exploited the gap between experience and representation to create their own mediated worlds--from the tight censorship of the imperial and Soviet periods, to the propaganda of the Soviet period and the recent use of media simulacra for strategic geo-political advantage. During this same period state control of media has been used to seclude Russia from the advancement of liberalism, market economics, individual rights, modernist art, Freud, Existentialism and, more recently, western discourses of inclusion, sustainability, and identity. Examining this history, it is sometimes difficult to discern whether the architects of Russian culture have been hopelessly backward or shrewd phenomenologists, keenly aware of the relativity of experience and of their ability to shape it. This course will explore the worlds that these practices produce, with an emphasis on Russia’s recent confrontations with western culture and power, and including various practices of subversion of media control, such as illegal printing and circulation. Texts for the course will draw from print, sound and visual media, and fields of analysis will include aesthetics, cultural history and media theory.

REES 26048 / 36048
Russian Cinema

Robert Bird
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMST 24505, CMST 34505
Winter
2015-2016
Literature and Linguistics course

Russian cinema occupies an important and distinctive place within world film culture. It rose to prominence in the 1920s through the revolutionary (in all senses) films and film theory of Sergei Eisenstein, Vsevolod Pudovkin, Dziga Vertov and others and maintained its distinction through the early years of socialist realism, a unique media system in which film was recognized, in Lenin’s saying, as “the most important of the arts.” After Stalin’s death Russian film re-captivated its revolutionary energy amidst the “Soviet new wave,” characterized by the films of Mikhail Kalatozov, Sergei Paradzhanov and Andrei Tarkovsky. In recent years film has continued to play a crucial role in defining and animating a post-Soviet cultural identity, both through poetic filmmakers as Aleksandr Sokurov and through genre films. We will survey this history, from 1917 right up to the present moment, with a selection of the most energizing films and theoretical writings by their makers. We will examine how a national style gets established and maintained; how film form and film style have responded to the pressures of ideology and power; how film art has served both as a tool of colonialization and identity-formation; and how film artists have negotiated the pressures of cultural tradition (including that of the Russian novel) and the world film market.

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

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 23401,CMLT 33401,NEHC 20573,NEHC 30573,HIST 24005,HIST 34005
Winter
2015-2016
Literature and Linguistics course

The Other Within the Self: Identity in Balkan Literature and Film. This two-course sequence examines discursive practices in a number of literary and cinematic works from the South East corner of Europe through which identities in the region become defined by two distinct others: the “barbaric, demonic” Ottoman and the “civilized” Western European. This course begins by defining the nation both historically and conceptually, with attention to Romantic nationalism and its flourishing in Southeastern Europe. We then look at the narrative of original wholeness, loss, and redemption through which Balkan countries retell their Ottoman past. With the help of Freud's analysis of masochistic desire and Žižek's theory of the subject as constituted by trauma, we contemplate the national fixation on the trauma of loss and the dynamic between victimhood and sublimity. The figure of the Janissary highlights the significance of the other in the definition of the self. Some possible texts are Petar Njegoš's Mountain Wreath; Ismail Kadare's The Castle; and Anton Donchev's Time of Parting.

REES 26047 / 36047
Pushkin and Gogol

Robert Bird
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
FNDL 26047
Autumn
2015-2016
Literature and Linguistics course

Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) is widely considered the founding genius of modern Russian literature, especially in his lyric and epic poetry; Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852) injected a manic strain of magic realism to create the modern Russian novel. Apollon Grigor’ev later called Pushkin “our everything”; Dostoevsky claimed “We all emerged out of Gogol’s ‘Overcoat.’” During the quarter we will read a representative selection of both writers’ major works, including Pushkin’s verse novel Evgenii Onegin, verse epic The Bronze Horseman, and novel The Captain’s Daughter, and Gogol’s novel Dead Souls in addition to his fantastic stories “The Nose” and “The Overcoat.” We will focus on close readings of the texts, paying particular attention to their experiments with literary form, as well as attending to their broader historical contextualization. We will focus particularly on the conceptions of realism projected by the texts and imposed by later readers. All readings will be in English translation.

REES 29012 / 39012
Returning the Gaze: The Balkans and Western Europe

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 23201,CMLT 33201,NEHC 20885,NEHC 30885
Autumn
2015-2016
Literature and Linguistics course

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 29016 / 39016
Gender in the Balkans: Sworn Virgins, Wounded Men & Eternal Mothers

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 23902,CMLT 33902, GNSE 27607
Autumn
2015-2016
Literature and Linguistics course

Through some of the best literary and cinematic works from Southeastern Europe, we will consider the questions of socialization into gendered modes of being – the demands, comforts, pleasures and frustrations that individuals experience while trying to embody and negotiate social categories. We will examine how masculinity and femininity are constituted in the traditional family model, the socialist paradigm, and during post-socialist transitions. We will also contemplate how gender categories are experienced through other forms of identity–the national and socialist especially–as well as how gender is used to symbolize and animate these other identities. The course assumes no prior knowledge of the history of Southeastern Europe, literature or gender theory. All readings in English translation.

REES 29900
Reading/Research: Russian and Eastern European Studies

Course level: 
Undergraduate
Autumn Spring Winter
2015-2016
Literature and Linguistics course

REES 27024 / 37024
Tear Down This Wall!”: Language and Society in 20th Century Poland

Kinga Kosmala and Erik Houle
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Autumn
2015-2016
Literature and Linguistics course

This course surveys the pragmatics and sociolinguistic aspects of language usage in propaganda and mass media in Poland throughout the 20th century. Poland was an epicenter of the tumultuous 20th century: two world wars, a short period of independence, communism, the Solidarity movement, entrance into the European Union, and becoming one of Europe’s leading economies. These extreme shifts have been reflected in the Polish language. This course will introduce students to the role of language as an active participant in Poland's history through an analysis of the languages of dominant discourse and commodification (propaganda, media, pop culture) and will examine the tactics of influence from a linguistic point of view.

REES 27003 / 37003
Narratives of Assimilation

Bozena Shallcross
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
JWSC 20223
Winter
2015-2016
Literature and Linguistics course

This course offers a survey of the manifold artistic strategies of (self)-representations of the Jewish writers from East Central Europe from the perspective of assimilation, its trials, successes and failures. During this course, we will inquire how the condition called assimilation and its attendants: secularization, acculturation, trans-nationalism, etc. has been explored by Mary Antin, Anzia Yezierska, Adolf Rudnicki, Eva Hoffman and others. Students will be acquainted with problems of cultural alienation and linguistic isolation, hybrid identity, and cultural transmission in conjunction with theoretical approaches by Zygmunt Bauman, Benjamin Harshav, Ryszard Nycz; all texts are read in English.

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

Bozena Shallcross
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
ENGL 21006/31006
Spring
2015-2016
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 of Polish ilk, we consider the biographical connection, such as his family members’ radical (“Red”) social agenda of the abolishment of serfdom. In analyzing the formation of the narrative’s ideology we analyze 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 but influential readings of the novel’s political and social dimension, as well as the most recent pronouncements of its complexity. All texts are in English.

REES 24400
Twentieth Century Central and East European Theater

Cheryl Stephenson
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Winter
2015-2016

This course provides an introduction to drama, performance, and production in Central and Eastern Europe in the twentieth century. Focusing on major developments in Czech, Russian and Polish theatrical practice, we will examine the relationship between the performance and the dramatic text, changing approaches to both the practical and creative work of staging a play, and the social and political climates that impacted theatrical production. Rather than attempting a broad survey of Central and East European theater, we will focus our attention on major turning points, high and low moments, and major innovators and innovations in theatrical culture.

 

REES 27019 / 37019
The Holocaust Object

Bozena Shallcross
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
JWSC 29500, ANTH 23910, ANTH 35035
Spring
2015-2016
Literature and Linguistics course

In this course we explore various ontological and representational modes of the Holocaust material object world as it was represented during WWII. Then, we interrogate the post-Holocaust artifacts and material remnants, as they are displayed, curated, controlled, and narrated in the memorial sites and museums of former ghettos, extermination and concentration camps. These sites which – once the locations of genocide – are now places of remembrance, the (post)human, and material remnants, also serve educational purposes. Therefore, we study the ways in which this material world, ranging from infrastructure to detritus, has been subjected to two, often conflicting, tasks of representation and preservation, which we view through a prism of authenticity. In order to study representation, we critically engage a textual and visual reading of museum narrations and fiction writings; to tackle with demands of preservation we apply a neo-materialist approach. Of special interest are survivors’ testimonies as appended to the artifacts they donated. The course will also equip you with salient critical tools for future creative research in the Holocaust studies.

REES 20004
Lolita

Malynne Sternstein
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
FNDL 25300,GNSE 24900,ENGL 28916
Winter
2015-2016
Literature and Linguistics course

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul, Lolita: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate, to tap at three on the teeth.” Popular as Nabokov’s “all-American” novel is, it is rarely discussed beyond its psychosexual profile. This intensive text-centered and discussion-based course attempts to supersede the univocal obsession with the novel’s pedophiliac plot as such by concerning itself above all with the novel’s language: language as failure, as mania, and as conjuration.