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    Macalester College
  Dec 12, 2017
College Catalog 2014-2015 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

RUSS 252 - Experiments in Living: 20th Century Russian Literature and Culture

In the twentieth century, political and artistic revolutions in Russia had repercussions far beyond its borders; we can still feel the effects to this day. How do artists respond to and shape historical events? How did writers in twentieth-century Russia transmute fear, violence, and chaos into art? In this course we will consider novels, stories, and poems, as well as paintings, music, and film reflecting upon the Bolshevik revolution, the Stalinist terror, World War II, the Thaw, {i}glasnost{ei} and {i}perestroika{ei}, and the turmoil of the post-Soviet era. We will become acquainted with major artistic trends including Symbolism, Futurism, and Socialist Realism; and observe how in each case, matters of style went hand in hand with the desire to change the world. Our readings will convey the fantastic schemes of the utopian thinkers at the turn of the century; artists’ responses to and participation in the political, scientific, and sexual experimentation of their time; and the survival of creative expression in the midst of unimaginable hardships. We will discover how and why some cultural figures chose to serve, and others to resist, the state, and what fate had in store for them. We will learn how provocateurs and innovators such as Mayakovsky, Akhmatova, Babel, Zoshchenko, Bulgakov, Solzhenitsyn, Brodsky, Pelevin, and Tolstaya explored the relationship between art and ideology, exile and creativity, laughter and subversion, memory and survival, individual psychology and historical cataclysm. All reading will be in English. Offered in alternate years. (4 Credits)