2017-2018 Academic Catalog 
    Aug 08, 2020  
2017-2018 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

HIST 251 - Russian Literature and Philosophy

Dostoevsky.  Tolstoy.  Chekhov.  These names instantly evoke the golden age of Russian belles-lettres.  But the masters of nineteenth-century Russian prose were not only great stylists and enthralling storytellers; they were also profound thinkers.  Their work bears the imprint of an original approach to the deep-rooted contradictions that continue to bedevil the human experience: reason and faith, personal happiness and collective well-being, justice and mercy, passion and renunciation.  In this seminar, we will read some of the classical treatments of these “accursed questions,” which both tormented and inspired the authors of those big Russian books that continue to challenge readers world-wide.  Focusing on close readings of key texts, we will interrogate the relationship between thematic concerns and problems of style, in order to understand why and how Russian philosophy took the form of imaginative literature and to gain a deeper appreciation of the Russian contribution to European intellectual history.  No background in Russian history is required; but be aware that the readings are substantial.  This course may be your only opportunity to read War and Peace!

Anticipated Terms Offered: Bi-annually