Courses in Russian and East European Studies (REES) (Division 468)

396/Pol. Sci. 396/Slavic 396/Hist. 333/Soc. 393. Survey of East Central Europe. (4). (SS). Laboratory fee ($10) required.
In recent years East Central Europe has often been in the news, bringing us both encouraging stories about the end of Communism and appalling accounts of the war in the former Yugoslavia. This course will help make sense of the triumph and tragedy of Eastern Europe. We will explore the region's rich and complex ethnic, political, and cultural history: the migrations into the region of diverse peoples; the role of Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Islam; the growth of powerful empires; the emergence of nationalism in the 19th century; the establishment of nation-states after World War I, and the region's tragic experiences with Fascism and Communism. Special emphasis will be placed on the dramatic events since 1989, as new political, economic, social, and cultural norms are being constructed after 40 years of communism. To place recent developments in perspective, we will also explore, critically, ethnic tensions, social and economic development, gender issues, and the rich literary and artistic traditions that have characterized the region. The course is structured around lectures by UM and visiting specialists and provides a broad multidisciplinary overview of the region. Requirements: midterm, final, and one paper. (Eagle)
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405. Topics in Russian and East European Studies. (1-4). (Excl).
Section 001 The Czech New Wave. (1 credit).
The fresh approaches of the Czech New Wave directors surprised the world in the mid-1960's. A new generation of filmmakers displayed an impressive range of styles from the gentle comic grotesque of Jiri Menzel (Closely Watched Trains - Academy Award, Best Foreign Film 1967), the menacing absurdism of Jan Nemec and the dadaist satire of Vera Chytilova to the pseudo-cinema-verite of Milos Forman (Loves of a Blonde) and the nuanced psychological realism of Jan Kadar (Shop on Main Street Academy Award, Best Foreign Film 1965). The films were not only artistically innovative, they were often subversive with respect to the bureaucratic Communism of the Novotny regime. The filmmakers exposed the constant repression, the loss of moral and civic values, the lack of meaningful prospects for youth, the subservience of women to a patriarchal order, and the regime's fostering of antisemitism. The films worked in clever allegorical ways, skirting the Communist censorship. The movement in film was a harbinger of the Prague Spring, the reform movement led by Alexander Dubcek. And the Czech New Wave directors suffered the same fate as the political reformers (repression and blacklisting) after the Soviet-led invasion in August 1968. Menzel's Larks on a String, the final masterpiece of the Czech New Wave, was banned from distribution until after the fall of Communism in 1989. We will view and discuss six films with an eye to artistic innovations as well as with attention to the social and political realities to which the films allude. One short (5-6 page) paper due at the end of the course. (Eagle)
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410. Polish Culture. (1). (Excl). May be repeated for a total of two credits.
Section 001 Polish Cinema.
Since the 1950's, Polish filmmakers have distinguished themselves through challenging cinema, in spite of the Communist Party censorship. After WWII, the film industry was nationalized and rapidly rebuilt, with a State Film School established at Lodz. Within a few years, the school's first wave of graduates (which included Wajda, Munk, and Polanski) had garnered international prizes at Cannes and elsewhere. Although directors were expected to adhere to the principles of "Socialist Realism" (which required an idealized Communist version of the past and present), these filmmakers were able to use intricate symbolism, absurdist allegory, and subtle satire to condemn the loss of decency and civic values in Communist society. Throughout the 1970's and 1980's, Wajda and a new generation of innovative filmmakers (among them Zanussi, Holland, Has, and Kieslowski) continued to break new ground. Wajda's films and Zanussi's contrasted the hypocrisy and opportunism of the establishment with youth's idealism; Has used surrealism to translate to the screen classic works of fiction; Holland brought gender issues to the fore. Kieslowski consistently tackled tough moral problems, and was the first to critique post-Communist Poland, in his celebrated White. We will view and discuss six films with an eye to artistic developments and trends, as well as with attention to the social and political events and situations to which the films refer. One short (5-6 page) paper due at the end of the course. (Eagle)
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