Orientalism andEmpire: Russia's Literary South
RUSS / HMCS 363-01: Fall 2007
Pictures of ACM students on Plateau Lago-Naki, which is in the Westernmost part
of the Caucasus range, the Caucasus being the main setting for our texts. ACM
Krasnodar Study Abroad Program, September 1998.
Class meets: MWF 10:50-11:50 in H 102.
Instructor: Gitta Hammarberg
Office: H209B, phone: 696-6556
Home: 1814 Lincoln Ave., phone: 651/698-7947
Office hours: M & W 8:30-9:30 & by appointment
Course Description and Goals
Since the 18th century to the current wars with Chechnia,
contradictory views of Russian empire building have been reflected in Russian
literature. We will begin by exploring some recurring ideas of empire that
have been particularly popular in Russia--from ancient ideas of being a
successor state to the Roman empire to more recent notions of succeeding
Genghis Khan's empire, to views of a Russian - Soviet - Russian empire that
continue to surface in Russian attitudes to Chechnia or Abkhazia.
- Our focus will be on one region: the Caucasus and the Crimea, Russia's "Oriental"
south. We will look briefly at the history of the Russian empire's expansion
into the region and then focus on how it is reflected in travelogues, Classicist
and Romantic poetry, Oriental tales, short stories, novels, and even architecture.
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.
- The course fulfills Macalester's Writing requirement and we take the writing
process seriously (see separate page)
- We will read several classics of Russian literature (Pushkin, Lermontov,
Tolstoy, Bestuzhev-Marlinskii, Tsvetaeva), but also lesser known authors,
some justly and others unjustly forgotten by the canon (Oznobishin, Elena
Gan, Iakubovich, Rostopchina, Pristavkin).
- We will supplement our literary readings with a variety of critical and
historical texts, as well as film screenings. Our readings, lectures, and
discussions will be in English.
Lectures, discussions, and oral student reports of assigned texts. Readings
will be listed on the Texts and Schedule linked to this page and you are expected
to complete reading each text by the time it is scheduled for discussion. You
will have the opportunity to show your analytical skills orally in classroom
presentations (pair/individual? to be determined during first classes) and discussions
where you comment on specific texts assigned in advance. You will perfect your
writing skills in a research paper due by the end of the semester, after consultations,
outlines, and drafts. This web page is the central informational venue for this
class and you need to to keep up-to-date electronically. Our course will hopefully
be a collegial dialogue, with us regularly and unpretentiously responding to
the texts and to each other's ideas in our discussions and writings.
This page was last updated on 8/25-07