Courses

Subject Code

Academic Year

Slavic Department Listings

Course brochure

See also the list of past years' courses.

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

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

SOSL 26610 / 36610
The Brighter Side of the Balkans

V. Friedman, A. Ilieva
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
NEHC 20884,NEHC 30884
Spring
2013-2014
Literature and Linguistics course

Laughter is universal but its causes are culturally determined. A joke in one culture can be a shaggy dog story in another.  The figure of the trickster occurs in many places and times and under many guises. Stereotypes can be revelatory about those who deploy them. At the same time, humor can be both an outlet and a danger. There is a special word in Russian for those sentenced to prison for telling political jokes.  This course focuses on Balkan humor, which, like the Balkans itself, is located in a space where "Western Europe", "Eastern Europe" "Central Europe" "The Mediterranean", "The Levant", and the "Near/Middle East" intersect in various ways (linguistically and culturally), compete for dominance or resist domination, and ultimately create a unique--albeit fuzzily bounded--subject of study.

In this course, we examine the poetics of laughter in the Balkans. In order to do so, we introduce humor as both cultural and transnational. We unpack the multiple layers of cultural meaning in the logic of “Balkan humor.” We also examine the functions and mechanisms of laughter, both in terms of cultural specificity and general practice and theories of humor. Thus, the study of Balkan humor will help us elucidate the “Balkan” and the “World,” and will provide insight not only into cultural mores and social relations, but into the very notion of “funny.” Our own laughter in class will be the best measure of our success – both cultural and intellectual.

SOSL 26800 / 36800
Balkan Folklore

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 23301,CMLT 33301,NEHC 20568,NEHC 30568,
Winter
2013-2014
Literature and Linguistics course

This course is an overview of Balkan folklore from ethnographic, 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. We also 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 our visit to the classes and rehearsals of the Chicago-based ensemble "Balkanske igre."

SOSL 27200 / 37200
Returning the Gaze: The Balkans and Western Europe

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 23201,CMLT 33201,NEHC 20885,NEHC 30885
Autumn
2013-2014
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 investigates the complex relationship between South East European self-representations and the imagined Western "gaze" for whose benefit the nations stage their quest for identity and their aspirations for recognition. We also think about differing models of masculinity, the figure of the gypsy as a metaphor for the national self in relation to the West, and the myths Balkans tell about themselves. We conclude by considering the role that the imperative to belong to Western Europe played in the Yugoslav wars of succession. Some possible texts/films are Ivo Andric, Bosnian Chronicle; Aleko Konstantinov, Baj Ganyo; Emir Kusturica, Underground; and Milcho Manchevski, Before the Rain.

SOSL 27300 / 37300
The Burden of History: A Nation and Its Lost Paradise

Angelina Ilieva
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Crosslists: 
CMLT 23401,CMLT 33401,NEHC 20573,NEHC 30573,
Winter
2013-2014
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.

SOSL 29700
Reading and Research Course

Course level: 
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
Consent of instructor and Departmental Adviser Note(s): Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form.
Autumn Spring Winter
2013-2014
Literature and Linguistics course

SOSL 29900
BA Paper

Course level: 
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
Open to fourth-year students who are majoring in Slavic Languages and Literature with consent of instructor and Departmental Adviser Note(s): Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form. This course must be taken for a qua
Autumn Spring Winter
2013-2014
Literature and Linguistics course