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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - Russian Studies

Undergraduate Course: Utopia and Dystopia in 20th-century Russian Literature (ELCR08012)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe courses examines a range of important texts across the corpus of the 20th-c. utopian/dystopian literature in Russia. The course engages with the relevant historical, political and philosophical frameworks that shaped the contextual setting and the main ideas of the works studied in the course. The course analyses the role of literature in restructuring Russian society and in constructing collective memory about revolutionary changes in Russia. It will focus on Russian literary responses to the utilisation of utopian dreams in the 1920s-1990s. All texts will be in English translation.
Course description The course develops students' literary analytical skills, and enables them to gain deeper insights into the major themes explored by Russian most influential 20th-c. authors and into the techniques employed in their works.
The course comprises 10 2-hour seminars accompanied by lecture notes on Learn and short introductory points about methodology, main themes of the texts and main literary devices used in them provided by the lecturer/tutor. Most of the classes will be based on workshop-style group discussions. A dossier will be provided by the course organiser in advance of the course with points for discussion and other important information that will be helpful for class discussion. In week 2 students will need to confirm their topics for group presentation during week 10. The group presentations will be focused on general themes and will encourage students to compare 2-3 works. A list of topics will include such broad themes as the representation of natural versus urban environment in the texts studied in the course; the language and imagery of Soviet utopia; the construction of the new Soviet man; the use of personal and collective memory in Russian dystopian texts; the construction of utopian and dystopian spaces in 20th-c. Russian literature. Essay topics will be available to students in the beginning of the course, and students will be expected to submit their essays by the end of week 12.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Construct clear and coherent arguments about the 20th-c. Russian utopian/dystopian literature through analysis of a range of texts spanning different socio-political contexts.
  2. Present their research in different formats (group presentations/posters and essays).
  3. llustrate these arguments using close analysis of the themes, form and style of these representations.
  4. Contextualize and critique the utopian/dystopian literary tradition in Russia in the 20th century using primary and secondary sources.
  5. Develop their oral, writing, communicative skills and comparative skills.
Reading List
Essential reading: Mayakovsky's long poem "A Cloud in Trousers"; Blok's long poem "The Twelve"; Zamiatin's novel "We"; Platonov's novel "The Foundation Pit"; Akhmatova's long poem "Requiem"; Shalamov's stories "On Tick" and "Berries" from "Kolyma Tales"; Tolstaya's novel "The Slynx".
Recommended reading:
*Edward James Brown. "Mayakovsky: A Poet in the Revolution (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973).
*Irene Masing-Delig. "The Salavation Model of Blok's 'The Twelve'," The Slavic and East European Journal, vol.24, no.2 (summer, 1980), pp.118-132.
*Thomas Seifrid. "A Companion to Andrei Platonov's 'The Foundation Pit'" (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2009).
*Sharon Bailey. "An Elegy for Russia: Anna Akhmatova's 'Requiem," The Slavic and East European Journal, vol;.43, no.2 (summer 1999), pp.324-346.
*Harriet Hustis, Maria Mostyka. "The Art of Indifference in Shalamov's 'Kolyma Tales'," The Russian Review (October 2017), pp.732-747.
* Danika Jenkins. "Stepping Through the Mirror: A Dystopian Vision of Regression and Stagnation in Tatayan Tolstaya's 'The Slynx'," Australian & New Zealand Journal of European Studies, vol. 2 Issue 2 (December 2010), pp. 92-99.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills During this course, students will further develop graduate attributes and personal and professional skills in the following areas:
Research and enquiry: analytical thinking; critical thinking; knowledge integration and application; handling complexity and ambiguity.
Personal and intellectual autonomy: self-awareness and reflection; independent learning and development; creative and inventive thinking.
Personal effectiveness: planning, organising and time management; assertiveness and confidence; flexibility.
Communication: interpersonal skills; verbal and written communication.
Special Arrangements The quota for the course is 25 students. The preference will be given to students enrolled in Russian Studies Hons programme. Other places can be taken by students from LLC and other schools. While all texts will be studied in English, Russian students will be encouraged to read Russian texts and use quotes from original Russian texts in their essays.
Study Abroad none
KeywordsUtopia,Dystopia,Russian 20th-century Literature
Course organiserDr Alexandra Smith
Tel: (0131 6)51 1381
Course secretaryMr Craig Adams
Tel: (0131 6)50 3646
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