Courses

Academic Year

Slavic Department Listings

Course brochure

See also the list of past years' courses.

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

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

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

Nada Petkovic
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Autumn Spring Winter
2017-2018
Language course

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

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

Kinga Kosmala
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Autumn Spring Winter
2017-2018
Language course

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

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

Kinga Kosmala
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
POLI 10103, 10203, 10303 or equivalent.
Autumn Spring Winter
2017-2018
Language course

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

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

Kinga Kosmala
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
POLI 20103, 20203, 20303 or equivalent.
Autumn Spring Winter
2017-2018
Language course

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

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

Erik Houle, Mark Baugher
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Autumn Spring Winter
2017-2018
Language course

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

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

Erik Houle, Mark Baugher
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
RUSS 10103, 10203, 10303 or consent of instructor. Drill sessions to be arranged.
Autumn Spring Winter
2017-2018
Language course

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

BCSN 21200 / 31200
Advanced BCS: Language through Film

Nada Petkovic
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
First and Second Year BCS or equivalent.
Crosslists: 
REES 21200/31200
Winter
2017-2018
Language course

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

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

Valentina Pichugin
Course level: 
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
RUSS 20103, 20203, 20303 or consent of instructor. Drill sessions ot be arranged.
Autumn Spring Winter
2017-2018
Language course

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

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

Valentina Pichugin
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
RUSS 20702, 20802, 20902 or consent of instructor; drill sessions to be arranged.
Crosslists: 
REES 21502 (Spring), REES 30302 (Spring)
Autumn Spring Winter
2017-2018
Language course

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

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

Valentina Pichugin
Course level: 
Graduate
Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 
RUSS 21302/30102, 21402/30202, 21502/30302 or consent of instructor. Drill sessions to be arranged.
Autumn Spring Winter
2017-2018
Language course

Must complete Advanced Russian through Media or equivalent, or obtain consent of instructor. Class meets for 2 hours each week.  We'll work with several topics, all of them are relevant to the general theme of "Geography and Worldview: Russian Perspective". There will be maps, reading materials, several documentaries, clips from TV programs and other media, and feature films. Class meetings will be a combination of group discussions, short presentations, and lectures. Final - one term paper at the end (in English) based on Russian materials.

REES 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 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.