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Fall 2023 Russian Courses

Modern Russian Culture: The Soviet Experiment

RUSS 2050

Dr. Sasha Spektor
Tu/Th 9:35-10:50
102 Caldwell Hall

This course starts with an overview of late Imperial Russian culture and politics in order to understand the mounting pressures that led to the momentous Revolution of 1917. It will then trace the trajectory of the greatest and most violent political, cultural, and social experiment in modern history, and conclude with a consideration of Soviet legacies in post-Soviet Russia today. We will use literature and other forms of cultural expression such as film, architecture, music, and painting to illuminate the diversity of pre-Soviet, Soviet, and post-Soviet realities and the incongruities between political theory and human experience. While the primary focus of this course is literary and artistic expression of Soviet-era Russia, we will also engage with political and social history because of the distinct nature of the Soviet experiment.
No prerequisites. No knowledge of Russian required.

KIND OF HUMAN: CHILDREN, ANIMALS, ROBOTS - Study of Subjectivity in Russian and East European Literature and Film

SLAV 3400

Dr. Sasha Spektor
Tu/Th 12:45-2:00
11 Joe Brown Hall

This course examines a wide variety of works from Russian and East European literature and film that deal with representations of lives that are either non-human (animals, robots, clones) or oftentimes considered to be less human than others (children).  The aim of the course is twofold:  on the one hand we will consider historical and contemporary notions of what it means to be human by looking at the portrayal of what is typically considered to be its polar opposite, i.e. non-human subjects.  On the other hand, we will be pushed to consider our coexistence with those who might fall outside of the fray of humanity.  Our focus will be on those works of art that question and problematize our notions of the human by forcing us to contemplate how much humanity we are willing to give to and accept from non-human subjects.  We will ground our investigation in historical and legal documents as well as philosophical treatises.
No prerequisites.
Satisfies the Russian major requirement of an upper-level English language course.
Satisfies the Franklin College Literature Requirement
(This course was previously called SLAV 2200)

Vladimir Nabokov

RUSS 4080

Dr. Charles Byrd
Tu/Th 2:20-3:15
213 Joe Brown Hall

A discussion-oriented survey of the author's literary accomplishments and uniquely multicultural life, from aristocratic Russian childhood to the impoverishment of European exile and eventual success as an American college professor, butterfly collector and Hollywood screenwriter.  Poems, chess problems, short stories, and scientific discoveries. In-depth consideration of two widely acknowledged masterpieces: the autobiographical Speak, Memory; and the scandalous Lolita.  Two film versions of this bestseller will be shown and discussed in conjunction with the course. Conducted in English. 
No prerequisites. No knowledge of Russian required.

Satisfies the Franklin College Literature Requirement

Contemporary Russian Culture

Russ 4520

Olga Thomason
MWF 11:30-12:20
213 Joe Brown Hall

This course is designed to enhance students’ knowledge of Russian society and culture and refine students’ Russian language skills. It examines contemporary Russian culture with consideration of the political, social and religious subtleties and traditions. These dynamics are usually not obvious to representatives of other cultures, but they shape the cultural identity of present-day Russians and influence their every-day behavior. One of the objectives for this course is to heighten students’ speaking, reading and writing skills to an advanced level.
Prerequisite: RUSS 3002 RUSS or 3012

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