Tolstoy to the present in translation

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Program in Slavic Languages and Literatures


RUSS 3422, 5422 (001)

Instructor: Nadya Clayton

Class Time: MWF 1:25 – 2:15

Place: FolH 116

Office: Folwell 320 D

Office phone: 612-626-6335


Office hours: by appointment

Course description:
The course helps you meet the Liberal Education core requirement in Literature through close study of the structure, ideas, cultural context and meaning of the works we read together.

Russian 3/5422 is a thematic course exploring universal themes in five of the most significant authors of the period. The course is divided into two halves: during the first half (before spring break) we will read selected works of Tolstoy and Chekhov. After spring break and till the end of the semester we will read two novels: Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s novella One day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich as well as some of his selected short stories. The course as a whole may be seen as an exploration of the organic literary worldviews of each author.

We will also enrich our exploration of these literary master works by viewing some selected excepts of their creative screen adaptations in the Russian and Western cinema.

Course requirements/ Grading:
Active and informed participation in discussion 30%

Two short written textual analyses (3 pages) 30%

Final research paper (10-12 pages) 40%

Texts for Reading:
Leo Tolstoy: Childhood, Boyhood, Youth

Tolstoy’s Collected Shorter Fiction (Vol. 1)

The Portable Chekhov

Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita

Boris Pasternak: Doctor Zhivago

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

The Solzhenitsyn Reader: New and essential writings 1947-2005
All reading texts are available in the University Book Store at Coffman Union.

Informal lecture and discussion. Emphasis is on the texts themselves, their significance in the writers’ creative evolution, Russian culture and human experience and developing interpretive skills.
Good attendance is pivotal to your success in the course, so you are expected to attend regularly and on time. No more than one unexcused absence will be allowed. Excused absences are for illness or family emergency only. Excessive absences will lower the final course grade by one-half grade. Coming to class late is disruptive. Cell phones and other electronic devices must be turned off in class.

Active and informed participation is especially important in the seminar setting. Be generous with your comments in response to your colleagues’ presentations. Always take notes on what you read, and come to class with a brief synopsis of your ideas about the text and the author as they are developing in your mind in order to try them out and hear what others have to say.

Even though the list of texts included in the course may seem long, the reading load is not excessive and does not exceed 120 pages per week – keep in mind that most of the works on the list are shorter fiction.
Two short textual analyses of selected passages from two different works on the syllabus provided by the professor should focus on the stylistic and structural elements of the text. Details and exact methodology will be covered in class before the first paper is due.
The final paper may concentrate on any literary or cultural problem which sparked your interest in the course of our readings. The topic should involve several texts which were read in class as well as independently consulted resources outside of class. I will be happy to read and critique a draft, given a week’s lead time.

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