Jun 25, 2024  
College Catalog 2022-2023 
College Catalog 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

RUSS 363 - Orientalism and Empire: Russia’s Literary South

Since the 18th century to the recent wars with Chechnya, contradictory views of Russian empire building have been reflected in Russian literature. Students first explore recurring Russian ideas of empire, such as “Moscow the Third Rome,” and “Eurasianism,” as well as the constructs of East/West as factors in Russian identity thinking. The course focuses on the Caucasus region, Russia’s “Oriental” south, starting with a brief history of imperial expansion into the area and concentrating on its literary expression in travelogues, Classicist and Romantic poetry, Oriental tales, short stories, and novels. We will ponder general “orientalist” imagery and stereotyping (the noble savage, the brave tribesman, the free-spirited Cossack, the sensual woman, the imperial nobleman/peasant, the government functionary, and “virgin” territory) together with ideas of nation and identity based on this specific region. We will read classics of Russian literature (Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, Tsvetaeva), but also lesser known authors, some justly and others unjustly forgotten by the canon (Osnobishin, Elena Gan, Iakubovich, Rostopchina). We will supplement our literary readings with a variety of critical and historical texts, as well as films. In English. Occasionally offered. (4 Credits)