RUSS-478 Literature of Prison and Exile/Twentieth-Century Russian Literature
Fall for 2015-2016
The course will explore two types of narrative in twentieth-century Russia: prison camp literature and the literature of exile. According to Varlam Shalamov, a concentration camp is hell. Alexander Solzhenitsyn tends to see it as purgatory, a place where one can find humanity even under inhuman circumstances. We will briefly study the history of the Soviet GULAG, including the difference between the criminal and political camps, and will concentrate on a close reading of literary works by Russian writers - both those who have been inmates, and those who have been guards. The course readings include works by Shalamov, Solzhenitsyn, Sinyavsky, Dovlatov, Brodsky, Pelevin, and Makanin. We will also watch and analyze films (e.g., The Prisoner of the Mountains). Classes are conducted mainly in the form of discussions.
Conducted in English. Fulfills the HUMW-II requirement.
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