Arpi Movsesian

In English. No prerequisites.

cross-listed with Comparative Literature 01:195:311:01

Weird Dostoevsky

What does it mean to be weird? This question preoccupied Fyodor Dostoevsky, the author of such masterpieces as Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, and The Brothers Karamazov. Idiots, madmen, ascetics, holy fools, buffoons, schismatics, zealous monks, misanthropic Byronic heroes, self-sacrificing women, and other eccentric personalities make up Dostoevsky’s oeuvre and speak to his enduring interest in weirdness. Our course will examine the concept of the weird as an umbrella category, a kind of otherness in which perceived eccentric personalities participate, as the author’s way of approaching ethical issues and life’s “accursed questions” that concerned Dostoevsky throughout his life and career. We will likewise consider the notion of perception in its relationship to otherness, periphery, oddity, and disability in Dostoevsky’s novels, short stories, and diary entries, as well as his attitude toward certain typologies of weirdness. Closely studying the contradictions arising in each of these categories within their historical, socio-cultural, religious, and medical contexts will help us better understand the place of weirdness in Dostoevsky’s works, its role in unveiling contemporaneous issues, and perhaps also provide insight into our own fascination with this celebrated writer of human personality. No prerequisites; all readings and class discussions in English.

Fulfills SAS Core goals AHo, AHp.