Professor Emily Van Buskirk

In English. No prerequisites. 

Russia’s twentieth century was punctuated by revolutions that brought radical transformations in culture, politics, and society to this vast country (and beyond).  A tsarist autocracy became a communist, totalitarian state, whose eventual disintegration in 1991 left behind a fragile, capitalist democracy.  In this course we study how Russian literature reflects the ways in which individual experiences and identities were shaped by dramatic (and often catastrophic) experiences such as revolution, collectivization, industrialization, war, terror, and the prison camp system.  We focus on the artistic movements that surrounded the October Revolution of 1917, and the subsequent literature that was suppressed, muted, or twisted by Stalinist policies.  We also read works from the “thaw” period (after Stalin’s death), the perestroika era in (1985-1991), and the early post-Communist years.  We study masterful novels (by Bulgakov, Nabokov, Zamyatin, Pelevin, and Petrushevskaya), poems (by Blok, Mayakovsky, and Akhmatova), short stories, and film.  We place these works in the context of Russian (Soviet) culture and history.  This course fulfills the Core curriculum goal AH p.  All readings and discussion in English.