Course Detail

195:397: Issues in Comparative Literature: Russian and Soviet Film

How can truth be captured on screen, and whom will the state allow to see and hear it? Is cinema high art or mass propaganda? How can film make sense of bloody historical traumas, or of the workaday hardships of “developed socialism” and its demise? These questions will guide our survey of Soviet and Russian cinema between 1920s-2000s. We will examine both avant-garde and mass culture cinema. We will study the works of luminaries like Sergei Eisenstein and Andrei Tarkovsky, as well as impactful films by directors from across Russia and the Soviet republics. We will see how these films reflect or refract history– both the history of USSR/Russia, as well as the history of world cinema in the 20th century. The course will serve as an introduction to both cinema studies and Russian studies. All films will be available in streaming format. All secondary readings will be available on Sakai.

Final grade:

2 shot-by-shot analysis exercises, posted on Sakai 10%
First Midterm ( Feb 25) 15%
First Paper, 4-5 pp. comparative reading of one film and theory text (due Mar 9) 20%
Second Midterm (Apr 15) 15%
Second Paper, 6-7 pp. comparative reading of two films (due Finals day) 30%
Class Participation 5%
On-Time Attendance 5%