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21st-Century Russian Literature
RUSS 257
Fall 2011
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: REES 257, COL 287, RULE 257

This seminar explores Russian literature during the Yeltsin decade, 1991-2000, and the Putin/Medvedev decade that has followed. The 1990s were difficult years for Russians. The dismantling of the Soviet Union's planned economy led to economic collapse, with massive unemployment, underemployment, inflation, deferred wages, and unfunded social services. The nightly news was dominated by images of wars in Chechnya and Serbia or squabbling among political factions in Parliament. When Putin was elected president in 2000, world prices for oil and gas increased threefold; by 2008 real wages were twice as high as they had been in 2000; the war in Chechnya ended; the independent news channel that had shown a world in disorder was shut down; and young Russians became optimistic about prospects for a better life. Yet, even as the economy has improved, Russians confront a host of social and cultural problems that make their daily lives difficult. Much of the best writing in Russia during the past two decades has combined social satire with stories of individuals who, in spite of surrounding disorder, achieve harmony in their personal lives. The family biographies of Grishkovets and Ulitskaya view family as a source of order. Pelevin mixes fantasy and realism both to satirize certain norms of Russian public life and to express Buddhist principles for freeing the self from social norms. In contemporary detective novels, Russia's favorite literary genre, the detectives' orderly pursuit of the criminal is juxtaposed to the disorder of the surrounding society.

Essential Capabilities: Intercultural Literacy, Interpretation
This course raises the question: how can we in our culture, our period, understand stories written in other cultures, other periods. It answers this question in two ways: 1) by using our theoretical and literary readings to identify meaningful structures intrinsic to all stories; and 2) by providing insights into modern Russian social/cultural history that will enable students to understand our literary readings in their original context.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA RUSS
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (COL)
Past Enrollment Probability: Not Available

Last Updated on JUN-04-2023
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