Course Detail

195:348: Stories of Russian Life: Memory, Invention, Experience

  • SAS Core Requirement: AHp, AHo, WCD

In this course we read stories that reflect experiences of Russian life, ranging from a happy childhood on an aristocratic estate to the suffering of a Soviet labor camp. When writing about their lives in autobiographies, memoirs, essays, diaries, or documentary prose, how do writers construct a self in the process of producing a text? How do they fashion a text that reflects the self? How do they select which experiences to represent or to omit? Where are the boundaries between fact and fiction? In readings that include a medieval monk's life and memoirs of the camps, as well as writings by some of Russia’s best known authors, we study the relationship between the individual and community, between personal life and dramatic historical events; between memory and invention; we explore the themes of childhood, first love, emigration, and confinement. We compare Russian non-fictions to fictional stories, in order to better understand important methods of artistic construction and interpretation. All readings and discussions are in English. All readings and discussions are in English. There are no prerequisites. Fulfills Core requirement AHo, AHp, WCd.
Cross-listing 01:860:348:01

Here are the required books for students to purchase:

Evgeniia Ginzburg, Journey into the Whirlwind ISBN 9780156027519
Lydia Ginzburg, Notes from the Blockade ISBN 9780099583387
Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory ISBN 9780679723394
Lev Tolstoy, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth ISBN 9780140449921

Here is the assignment breakdown:
Attendance 10%
Participation (classroom discussion and online blogs) 15%
2-page close reading paper 10%
Mid-term exam 15%
4-page paper 20%
Final paper, 6-8 pages 30%