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Anna Karenina

Semester and Year SP 2014
Course Number IDSEM-UG1773
Section 001
Instructor Lauren Kaminsky
Days Tue
Time 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Units 2.0
Level U
Foundation Requirement HUM, GLOBAL


Course meets during the first seven weeks only, First Class: January 28; Last Class: March 11.


Tolstoy’s famous novel begins with a provocation: “all happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” In questioning the relationship between morality and ordinary joys and sorrows, this course will begin with the book’s historical context before proceeding with interdisciplinary readings and retellings of the story. Originally published in serialized form, Anna Karenina was a comment on contentious debates about legal reforms and the so-called woman question in 1870s Russia. This course will rely on our reading of the text to similar effect: how do we decide what constitutes a family and why? What work do we expect the state and society to do on behalf of love, and vice versa? With these questions in mind, we will read Tolstoy’s eponymous heroine as a study in subjectivity and selfhood originating in and exceeding the realist novel, illuminating her status as a screen for historical and contemporary anxieties about infidelity, motherhood, consumption, scandal and choice. Reading the novel will be a central project of the class. Secondary readings will range from legal histories of marriage and consent to psychoanalytic works on desire and identification, as well as films such as Darezhan Omirbaev’s Chouga .

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

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