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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

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 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 27021 / 37021
Narratives of Assimilation

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

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

REES 21002 / 31002
Kieślowski’s French Cinema

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

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

REES 29009 / 39009
Balkan Folklore

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

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

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

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

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

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

REES 23203 / 32303
Animal Stories

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

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

REES 24414
Soviet Science Fiction

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

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

REES 25602
Russian Short Fiction: Experiments in Form

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

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

REES 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 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 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 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 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.