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Semester 1

The Golden Age of Russian Literature (ELCR08011)


European Languages and Cultures - Russian Studies





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Course Summary

The course focuses on the most important 19th-c. Russian writers with the view to introduce students to their works and ideas. It will examine the main socio-political and cultural trends in Russia and in Europe that influenced such writers as Pushkin, Gogol', Turgenev, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. This course is idea-led: it will examine in depth several key themes clearly outlined at the beginning of the course. The list of main themes includes these points: the legacy of the Enlightenment and the representation of madness in Russian literature; the inter-relationship between the author and the government; the representation of St Petersburg in literature and the construction of Russian national identity; the criticism of Russian imperial policies; the emergence of nihilism and positivism in Russia; and the ongoing dialogue between Russia and the west. The course develops students' literary analytical skills, and enables them to gain deeper insights into the major themes explored by Russian most influential 19th-c. writers as well as into the techniques employed in their works.

Course Description

The course's outline: Pushkin "The Bronze Horseman" (weeks 1-2); Gogol "The Overcoat" and "The Nose" (weeks 3-4); Turgenev "Fathers and Sons" (weeks 5-6) ; Dostoevsky "Crime and Punishment" (7-8); Tolstoy "After the Ball" (week 9); group presentation -- week 10. The course will comprise 10 2-hour seminars accompanied by lecture notes on Learn and short introductory points about methodology, main themes of the texts and main literary devices used in them provided by the lecturer/tutor. Most of the classes will be based on workshop-style group discussions. A dossier will be provided by the course organiser in advance of the course with points for discussion and other important information that will be helpful for class discussion. In week 2 students will need to confirm their topics for group presentation during week 10. The group presentations will be focused on general themes and will encourage students to compare 2-3 works. A list of topics will include such broad themes as the legacy of the Enlightenment and the representation of St Petersburg in Russian 19th-c. literature; the construction of masculinity and femininity in Russian 19th-c. literature; the construction of Russian national identity through literature; the use of religious themes in the works of 19th-c. writers; the representation of madness; the responses to political and social changes in Russia; the use of satirical devices in Russian 19th-c. texts; the representation of natural versus urban environment in the texts studied in the course. The take-home exam topics will be available to students during week 8, and they will be expected to submit their essays (2,500 words) by the end of week 11.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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