Fall Course Guide

Slavic Languages and Literatures

Slavic Linguistics, Literary Theory, Film, and Surveys (Division 474)

Fall Term, 1998 (September 8-December 21, 1998)

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150. First Year Seminar. Only first-year students, including those with sophomore standing, may pre-register for First-Year Seminars. All others need permission of instructor. (3). (HU). May be repeated for a total of six credits.
Section 001 Cultural Diversity of Russia, Eastern Europe & Eurasia.
This course will explore firsthand the extraordinary cultural diversity of Eastern Europe, Russia and Eurasia, where European and Asian cultures met and often clashed, and whose culture is a unique blend of Western and Oriental influences. Two papers and short reviews of films, stories, and articles. (Shevoroshkin)
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151. First Year Seminar. Only first-year students, including those with sophomore standing, may pre-register for First-Year Seminars. All others need permission of instructor. (4). (Introductory Composition).
Section 001 Russian Film, Russian Life.
In this seminar we will explore the competition between differing social and cultural values in 20th-century Russian life by examining how these values have been represented in Russian film. All of the films to be discussed in the seminar involve events in Russian history (from life in the medieval period to the collapse of the USSR) and in contemporary Russian society. Even what the "historical" films have to say about art, politics, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social issues is always targeted toward the debates of the periods in which the films were made. Thus, two time periods are always relevant: the era the film depicts and the era in which it was produced. Film in Russia was subject to varying degrees of ideological control. But visual film language proved in many ways difficulty to censor completely, so that in many periods ingenious film directors were able to work within the system, balancing the Communist Party's preferred views on issues with their own, more or less dissident, views. The end of censorship in the mid-1980s brought a new, more frank, treatment of many themes: nationalism, religion, youth culture (rock and roll, punk), women's issues, the role of the artist in society. In all cases, we will have an eye not only on issues as they were relevant in the past, but also on their effects on perceptions and debates within Russia today. Cost:2 WL:4 (Eagle)
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225. Arts and Cultures of Central Europe. (3). (HU).
The course is an introduction to the rich cultures of the peoples of Central Europe (Croats, Czechs, Hungarians, Jews, Poles, Serbs, and Slovaks) seen against the background of two world wars, communism and its recent disintegration. Culturally vibrant, Central Europe reveals the tragic destiny of twentieth-century civilization which gave rise to two totalitarian systems: fascism and communism. The course will outline the ethnic complexities of the region, with special attention to Jewish culture and its tragic destruction during the Holocaust. The trauma of the war on the civilian population will be documented by contemporary films. The course will examine the fate of culture under totalitarianism and study subterfuges used by novelists, dramatists, and artists to circumvent political control and censorship. Students will read works by Kafka, Milosz, Kundera and Havel, see movies by Wajda and others, become acquainted with Czech and Polish avant-garde art and music, and the unique cultural atmosphere of Central European cities: Vienna, Prague, Budapest, and Warsaw. (Carpenter, Toman, Eagle).
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313/RC Hums. 313. Russian Cinema. (3). (HU). Laboratory fee ($50) required.
In the 1920's Soviet film makers armed with bold new ideas about cinematic art and with a revolutionary political ideology created the theory of film montage and through it a decade of acknowledged masterpieces. In the 1930's experimentation gave way to an officially sanctioned "socialist realist" art, ideologically dogmatic and oriented toward the regime's specific political and social goals. However, after Stalin's death experimentation and diversity reemerged in Soviet cinema. Although "socialist realism" remained the officially sanctioned style, directors were able to reintroduce personal themes and, more subtly, religious and philosophical issues. The 1980's saw the reemergence of a variety of approaches (from documentary to the grotesque) and open political and social criticism in the spirit of glasnost with the end of the Soviet Union, sexuality, gender, and ethnicity became important issues as well. The course will examine this rich history in terms of both themes and styles. Evaluation will be based on contributions to class discussion and three short (5-7 page) critical papers. Cost:2 WL:4 (Eagle)

Russian Pioneers of Cinema Language
Strike (Eisenstein 1924) Avant-garde concepts from literature and theater brought to cinema to create the shock effects of the "montage of attractions."
Mother (Pudovkin 1925) Using "plastic material" in montage creates new concept of film acting in depicting a woman's path from passivity to political action in 1905 Revolution.
Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein 1925) In depicting the sailor's rebellion in 1905, Eisenstein created his masterpiece of "collision" montage the Odessa steps sequence.
Man With a Movie Camera (Vertov 1928) Kino-eye cinema verite used to observe life as it is (no sets, no scripts) and reassemble it as a collage with its own internal rhythms and visual coherences.
Earth (Dovzhenko 1930) Poetic cinema with use of imaginative personal and folk elements in praise of the marriage of nature and technology. Plot concerns the assassination by kulaks of a collective farm activist.

Socialist Realism, Stalinist Monumental Epics & Eisenstein's Reemergence.
Road to Life (Ekk 1931) In the melodramatic and exhortative style to become typical for socialist realism, Ekk chronicles the transformation of a gang of juvenile delinquent orphans into a dedicated collective.
Chapayev (Sergei and Georgi Vassiliev 1931) A "positive hero" of folk origin (Chapayev) becomes a military leader with the help of a politically conscious commissar.
Ivan the Terrible Parts I and II (Eisenstein 1944-46) - Stalinist ideology and subtle dissent in this epic historical tragedy.
Eisenstein integrates music and color into his theory and practice of "overtonal montage."

The Contemporary Period. Personal Themes and Styles. Philosophical Religious, and Ethnic values. Political and Social Critique.
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Paradzhanov 1964) Folklore realism with dazzling color and use of camera movement in this allegory about the struggle between material, worldly power and spirituality.
Andrei Rublev (Tarkovsky 1966) Based on the life of the great Russian icon painter; an epic portrait of medieval Russia and its political and spiritual values. Its applicability to contemporary life led to its suppression for several years.
The White Bird With a Black Spot (Ilyenko 1972) Symbolic imagery and brilliant cinematography abound in this drama of conflict between two brothers on opposite sides of the conflict in the Ukraine during the Second World War.
Scarecrow (Bykov 1984) The cruel ostracism and hazing of a kind, decent though awkward, adolescent schoolgirl by her classmates, amidst adult apathy, presents a critical allegory about the behavior of the Soviet citizenry under Stalin and Brezhnev. A Soviet Lord of the Flies.
My Friend Ivan Lapshin
(German 1985) German deconstructs Socialist Realism and its effects in this subtle examination of an apparent "positive hero," the tough but amiable police detective Lapshin, on the trail of thieves and blackmarketeers. Ultimately, though, Lapshin and his friends, in their naivete, singlemindedness and persistent blindness to the social realities in which they live, provide a chilling portrait of Stalinist Soviet society.
Little Vera (Pychul 1988) Pychul's naturalistic portrait of the confusion and poverty of Soviet urban life was ground-breaking in its frank treatment of escapism through alcoholism, sex, and rock culture in a dispirited society.
Taxi Blues (Lungin, 1990) This fast-paced fable of a symbiotic love-hate relationship of a Moscow taxi driver and a brilliant, but alcoholic, jazz saxophonist explores the dynamics of conflicts in contemporary life between workers and intellectuals, Russians and Jews, in the new hyper-realist style.
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395/REES 395/Hist. 332/Poli. Sci. 395/Soc. 392. Survey of Russia: The Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the Successor States. (4). (SS). Laboratory fee ($10) required.
See Russian and East European Studies 395. (Rosenberg)
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