Slavic Languages and Lit

  • East European Literature and Politics

    This seminar will examine 20th-century Eastern European history through literary works from a number of countries in the region, from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to present-day Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Belarus, and the Balkans. Readings will generally consist of one novel per week, but we will also look at a number of other genres, including the short story, poetry, drama, the journal, and reportage.
  • Russia in Color

    Russia in Color investigates the application, evolution, and perception of color in art in (Soviet) Russia and emigration. This Princeton University Art Museum-based course explores the rich holdings of the museum, with a particular focus on Russian and European objects, as selections of artworks are paired with theoretical and cultural readings (media theory, philosophy, literature, science). The course includes a basic introduction to color terminology, guest lectures on the technologies and science of color printing, and a hands-on practicum in color mixing/pigmentation.
  • Topics in Russian Literature or Literary Theory: Authorship of the Body in the Anthropocene

    This seminar traces and examines the network of disparate stories that coalesce around bodies and health from the standpoint of narrative theory and the medical and environmental humanities. While the medical humanities show how authorship and authority over matters of illness, the body and the self are negotiated through a complex layering of narrative voices, ecocriticism reveals the enmeshment of the human body with the environment, value systems, and the distribution of knowledge.
  • Roma (Gypsies) in Eastern Europe: The Dynamics of Culture

    "Roma (Gypsies) in Eastern Europe" treats Romani history, cultural identity, folklore, music, religion, and representations in literature and film. Roma have been enslaved, targeted for annihilation, and persecuted for centuries. Yet they have repeatedly adapted and adjusted to the circumstances surrounding them, persisting as distinctive ethnic communities while simultaneously contributing to and forming part of the dominant worlds in which they live. This course offers novel perspectives on ethnic minorities and the dynamics of culture in Slavic and East European society.
  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace: Writing as Fighting

    We start with Tolstoy's artistic stimuli and narrative strategies, explore the author's provocative visions of war, gender, sex, art, social institutions, death, and religion. The emphasis is placed here on the role of a written word in Tolstoy's search for truth and power. The main part is a close reading of his masterwork The War and Peace (1863-68) - a quintessence of both his artistic method and philosophical insights. Each student will be assigned to keep a "hero's diary" and speak on behalf of one or two major heroes of the epic (including the Spirit of History).
  • Seminar on Andrei Bitov

    Analysis of works of one of Russia's most important contemporary writers. Focus on major novels, including "Pushkin House," the 1st Russian postmodernist novel. We explore his wide-ranging concerns, such as psychology; philosophy; science; other arts (including jazz & cinema); people's relationship to other biological species; integrity & societal and psychological obstacles to it. We examine him as a Petersburg writer. Focus also on his relationship to time, history, & other writers; his place in Russian & Soviet literature & culture.
  • Philosophy and Literature: Western Thought and the Russian Dialogic Imagination

    This course is a study of the relationship between Western philosophy and Russian literature, specifically the many ways in which abstract philosophical ideas get `translated' into literary works. Russia does not have world famous philosophers. Yet, most Russian writers were avid readers of philosophy and are often considered philosophers in their own right. On what grounds can, for example, Dostoevsky, such a notorious opponent of "reason," be considered a philosopher? Or what happens when Tolstoy meticulously studies Kant's Critique of Pure Reason or falls in love with Schopenhauer?
  • Literature and Medicine

    What does medicine have to do with literature and vice versa? What stories are told, negotiated, juxtaposed in doctor-patient interactions? Why do doctors tell and need stories? How does literature, with its imagery and its structural features, illuminate medicine as a system of representation? What rhetorical and stylistic devices are embedded in the way we commonly conceive of illness, healing, the medical institutions and caregiving?
  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace: Writing as Fighting

    We start with Tolstoy's artistic stimuli and narrative strategies, explore the author's provocative visions of war, gender, sex, art, social institutions, death, and religion. The emphasis is placed here on the role of a written word in Tolstoy's search for truth and power. The main part is a close reading of his masterwork The War and Peace (1863-68) - a quintessence of both his artistic method and philosophical insights. Each student will be assigned to keep a "hero's diary" and speak on behalf of one or two major heroes of the epic (including the Spirit of History).
  • Vladimir Nabokov

    In 1919, at the age of twenty, Vladimir Nabokov fled "the bloated octopus of state" of his native Russia and embarked on a dazzling bilingual literary career in emigration. This course focuses on Nabokov's masterly writing, which reflects a modernist preoccupation with narrative, temporality, and memory. The Russian and American novels are at the center of our attention, but readings include also a sampling of his shorter fiction, poetry, essays on literature, and the memoir Speak, Memory.

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