Courses

Academic Year

Slavic Department Listings

Course brochure

See also the list of past years' courses.

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

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

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 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.

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

Nada Petkovic
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Autumn Spring Winter
2015-2016
Language course

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

MWF 11:30-12:20 PM

BCSN 21100
Advanced Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian: Language through Fiction

Nada Petkovic
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Autumn
2015-2016
Language course

This course, which encompasses both the 3rd and 4th years of language study, changes the focus from language structure and grammar to issues in interdisciplinary content. Each module foregrounds a different theme and leverages a different medium—fiction, film, art and architecture, urban anthropology, etc. Unlike the First- and Second-Year Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS) courses, Advanced BCS courses are not in sequence, and students can take them randomly, over the course of two academic years to fulfill their 3rd and/or 4th year of language study.

CZEC 10103
First-Year Czech

Course level: 
Undergraduate
Autumn
2015-2016
Language course

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

Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Autumn Spring Winter
2015-2016
Language course

This course teaches students to speak, read, and write in Polish, as well as familiarizes them with Polish culture. It employs the most up-to-date techniques of language teaching (e.g. communicative and accelerated learning, and learning based on students’ native language skills), as well as multileveled target-language exposure. Autumn, Winter, Spring. Meets on MWF 10:30-11:20. Drill sessions to be arranged.

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

Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Autumn Spring Winter
2015-2016
Language course

This course includes instruction in grammar, writing, and translation, as well as watching selected Polish movies. Selected readings are drawn from the course textbook, and students also read Polish short stories and press articles. In addition, the independent reading of students is emphasized and reinforced by class discussions. Work is adjusted to each student’s level of preparation. Autumn, Winter, Spring. Meets on MWF 10:30-11:20. Drill sessions to be arranged.
 

POLI 30103 - 30203 - 30303
Third-Year Polish I, II, III

Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Autumn Spring Winter
2015-2016
Language course

PQ: POLI 20300 or equivalent. The process of learning in all three quarters of Third Year Polish is framed by three themes, which most succinctly but aptly characterize the Polish life, culture and history: in the Fall Quarter – the noble democracy in the Commonwealth of Both Nations, in the Winter Quarter – the fight for independence, and in the Spring Quarter – the newly independent Poland. During the course of the year, students also improve their knowledge of advanced grammar and stylistics. All work in Polish. Autumn, Winter, Spring. Meets on MWF 11:30-12:20. Conversation hour to be arranged.

POLI 20503 - 20603 - 20703 / 40103 - 40203 - 40303
Polish Through Literary Readings I, II, III

Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Autumn Spring Winter
2015-2016
Language course

Meets: TBA
PQ: POLI 303 or equivalent. An advanced language course emphasizing spoken and written Polish. Readings include original Polish prose and poetry as well as nonfiction. Intensive grammar review and vocabulary building. For students who have taken Third Year Polish and for native or heritage speakers who want to read Polish literature in the original. Readings and discussions in Polish. Autumn, Winter, Spring.

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

Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Autumn Spring Winter
2015-2016
Language course

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

Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
PQ: Russ 10300 or Consent of Instructor, Drill Sessions to be arranged.
Autumn Spring Winter
2015-2016
Language course

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

Valentina Pichugin
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
PQ: RUSS 20300 or Consent of Instructor
Autumn Spring Winter
2015-2016
Language course

RUSS 21002 - 21102 - 21202
Fourth-Year Russian: Short Story I, II, III

Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
PQ: RUSS 20902 or Consent of Instructor.
Autumn Spring Winter
2015-2016
Language course

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

Valentina Pichugin
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
PQ: RUSS 21202 or Consent of Instructor.
Autumn Spring Winter
2015-2016
Language course

RUSS 21600
Russian for Heritage Learners

Course level: 
Undergraduate
Autumn
2015-2016
Language course

RUSS 29910
Special Topics in Advanced Russian

Valentina Pichugin
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
Must complete Advanced Russian through Media or equivalent, or obtain consent of instructor. Class meets for 2 hours each week.
Autumn
2015-2016
Language 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 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 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 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.

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 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 29700
B.A. Paper Workshop

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

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.

BCSN 21200
Advanced Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian: Language through Film

Nada Petkovic
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Winter
2015-2016
Language course

This course, which encompasses both the 3rd and 4th years of language study, changes the focus from language structure and grammar to issues in interdisciplinary content. Each module foregrounds a different theme and leverages a different medium—fiction, film, art and architecture, urban anthropology, etc. Unlike the First- and Second-Year Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS) courses, Advanced BCS courses are not in sequence, and students can take them randomly, over the course of two academic years to fulfill their 3rd and/or 4th year of language study.

BCSN 21300
(Re)Branding the Balkan City: Contemporary Belgrade, Sarajevo, Zagreb (also Advanced Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian)

Nada Petkovic
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Spring
2015-2016
Language course

The course will use an urban studies lens to explore the complex history, infrastructure, and transformations of these cities. Drawing on anthropological theory and ethnography of the city, it will consider processes of urban destruction and renewal, practices of branding spaces and identities, urban life as praxis, art and design movements, and the broader politics of space.
The course is taught in English. No knowledge of Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS) is required. However, this module can fulfill a language requirement or simply further the study of BCS with additional weekly sections, materials, discussions, and presentations in the target language.

 

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.

BCSN 10103 - 10203 - 10303
First-Year Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian

Nada Petkovic
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Autumn Spring Winter
2015-2016
Language course

The major objective of the course is to build a solid foundation in the basic grammatical patterns of written and spoken Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, while simultaneously introducing both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets.  This course is complemented with cultural and historical media from the Balkans and is designed for students with a wide range of interests.  Screenings of movies and other audio-visual materials are held in addition to scheduled class time.  Knowledge of a Slavic language and background in linguistics not required.