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Semester 1

The Great Russian Novel (Ordinary) (ELCR09002)


European Languages and Cultures - Russian Studies





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In order to be eligible to take 4th Year Options, Visiting Students should have the equivalent of at least two years of study at University level of the appropriate language(s) and culture(s). Entry is at the discretion of the course organiser.

Course Summary

The course facilitates a critical engagement with the Russian novel of the 19th century. In 19th century Russia, the novel, both as an art form and an expression of the human condition reached as extraordinary level of development within a very short space of time. Whilst the remarkable works of fiction produced in this period form a unique picture of a society in a period of rapid change and flux, they are much more than this - they belong rightly to world literature and they have long been regarded as amongst the finest in their genre as well as pushing further the boundaries of the genre. Following the brief 'Golden Age' of Pushkin and his gifted contemporaries, such remarkable writers as Gogol, Goncharov, Turgenev, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy had established themselves as important authors and thinkers. They are widely known in Russia and abroad. The course will study selected works by some of these authors while paying particular attention to how in the absence of recognizable civil institutions in Russia, the novel and its associated body of literary polemics became the focal point for a debate about the whole range of human experience. Emphasis will be given to the role of the writer, the novels' reflection on development of Russian society and the place of Russia in the world.

Course Description

The course will study several important Russian 19th-c. novels in order to analyse their main themes, ideas and characters in relation to historical, socio-political and cultural contexts in which they were written. The course will examine the relevance of established approaches to these novels produced in Russia and in the west. Through a close textual study of key texts, this option aims to foster an understanding of the ways Russian writers engaged with contemporary society and culture and how they contributed to the construction of national and personal identities that revolved around the binary opposition "Russia and Europe" .

Assessment Information

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

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