|Semester and Year||FA 2008|
|Time||9:30 AM - 10:45 AM|
“Only in Russia is poetry respected—it gets people killed. Nowhere else is poetry so common a motive for murder.” So said the poet Osip Mandelstam before his own state-sanctioned death in 1938. What is the connection between art and politics in Russia? Why have artists been at once so vital and so brutally repressed? Making sense of this terrible paradox means exploring the relationship between art, ideas, and a history of state repression on an almost unprecedented scale. Rather than studying art and politics separately, in this course we will consider together poets, anarchists, novelists, liberals, playwrights, communists, romantics, and other revolutionaries who defy generic categorization. In this course we will examine the cultural history of Russia from Pushkin to Putin, considering Soviet culture alongside that of the Tsarist Empire and today’s capitalist democracy. We will focus on the themes of “Russia” and “revolution,” organizing our ideas around these central concepts at the same time that we call these categories into question. How have ideas about revolution shaped ideas of Russianness? How have narratives of revolution been told and retold? How has the role of the revolutionary changed over time? What is the relationship between Russian society and the state? We will look for answers to these questions in significant texts by prominent Russian writers, thinkers, and actors on the world stage. Through posters, paintings, films, cartoons, speeches, essays, poems, and prose, we will trace recurring narrative threads pulled throughout the last two hundred years of Russian history. Readings will include works by Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Bakunin, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Lenin, Mayakovsky, Stalin, Trotsky, Akhmatova, Khrushchev, Pasternak, and Solzhenitsyn.
Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)