Prof. Van Buskirk 01: 860: 485 Fall 2013 Russia’s Rival Capitals: Moscow and Petersburg

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Prof. Van Buskirk 01:860:485

Fall 2013

Russia’s Rival Capitals: Moscow and Petersburg
Russia has two rival capitals, each with its native cultural and literary traditions: Moscow and St. Petersburg (known as Leningrad for most of the Soviet period). In this course we explore the literary heritage of these storied cities, with attention to the interactions between city and text. When urban spaces, places, and landmarks enter into literature, they become symbols and myths, acquiring histories that combine the real with the imaginary. Literary representations can transform how readers experience a city. Topics include evolving cultural myths of Petersburg and Moscow; the city as a place for negotiating national identity and history; the relationship between textual and visual representations of cities; the city and the imaginary (urban phantasmagoria, hallucinations, dreams, terrors). Authors include Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Bely, Mandelstam, L. Ginzburg, Brodsky, Bulgakov, Platonov, Erofeev, as well as a sampling of visual art, architecture, songs, and film. All readings and discussion in English.
COURSE GOALS: upon successful completion of this course, students will

  • Acquire an understanding of Russian literature and culture of the 19th through early 21st centuries, in particular of representations and myths of Moscow and Petersburg.

  • Understand methods by which urban space is represented in literature and film, and the interactions between artists, texts, and cityscapes in the creation of cultural myths.

  • Sharpen analytical and communication skills.

  • Be able to propose an argumentative thesis and support it with appropriate evidence.

  • Be able to write a longer research paper using several secondary sources.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS (and percentages of the grade)
2 discussion papers (3 pages) 30%

For the first paper, each student will receive an individualized topic, keyed to our reading for that day. For the second paper, each student will choose a particular place or monument of either Moscow or Petersburg, and analyze it in relation to an artistic representation. In class, students will present (in 5 minutes or less) the main features of their argument, then respond to questions from other students. They will explain their ideas about one passage from the reading that relates to their topic. Each student will be assigned to serve as a respondent twice during the semester. This entails choosing a passage from the reading that relates to the paper topic, writing a paragraph analyzing the passage, and posing a few questions to the paper-writer about this passage as well as about the paper he or she has presented.

4 reading quizzes 20%

Final paper (10-15 pages) 25%

In their final papers, students are expected to use 3-5 secondary sources. Citation guidelines will be distributed. Students will design their own topics, in consultation with the professor.

In-class performance 15%

Attendance 10%

Readings and other materials (the list subject to change, possibly reduction)

Alexander Pushkin, “The Bronze Horseman”; “The Queen of Spades”

Nikolai Gogol, “Nevsky Prospect,” “The Overcoat”

Fyodor Dostoevsky, “Notes from Underground,” excerpts from Crime and Punishment

Aleksander Blok and Anna Akhmatova, various poems

Andrei Bely, Petersburg (1916-22) (excerpts)

John Reed, Ten Days that Shook the World (excerpts)

Evgeny Zamyatin, “The Cave” (1922)

Osip Mandelstam, “Leningrad,” “We shall meet again in Petersburg” (1920/1928)

Lydia Ginzburg, Blockade Diary, Part 1 (1942-1962-1983)

Olga Berggol’ts, select poems from the Leningrad Blockade (1941-44)

Joseph Brodsky, “A Guide to a Renamed City” (1979)

Leningrad underground poets (1970s)

Polina Barskova, select poems (2010-2012)

Films, songs, art/architecture

Vsevolod Pudovkin, The End of St. Petersburg (1927)

Sergei Eisenstein (dir.), October (1928)

Vladimir Vysotsky, “I Grew up in the Leningrad Blockade” (1962)

Leningrad rock of the 1980s

Alexander Sokurov, Russian Ark (2002)

Sergei Loznitsa, Blockade (2006)

Art of the Russian avant-gardes, Tatlin’s tower



Alexander Pushkin, Boris Godunov (1825/31)

Lev Tolstoy, War and Peace (excerpt) (1865-68)

Vladimir Mayakovsky, select poems

Marina Tsevataeva, select poems

Mikhail Bulgakov, Master and Margarita (excerpts) (1929-40)

Kay Thompson, Hilary Knight, Eloise in Moscow (1959)

Venedikt Erofeev, Moscow to the End of the Line (1969-1970/1989)

Films, songs, art

Modest Mussorgsky, Boris Godunov (1873)

Bed and Sofa, dir. Abram Room (1927)

Ivan the Terrible (excerpts), dir. Sergei Eisenstein (1945/1958)

Bulat Okudzhava, “Song of the Arbat” (1959)

Moscow does not Believe in Tears, dir. (1980)

Moscow Conceptualist art, Sots art (trip to the Zimmerli)

My Perestroika, dir. Robin Hessman (2010)

Youtube video performance of “Pussy Riot” band (at the Church of the Savior, Moscow), trial excerpts and the documentary Pussy Riot: a Punk Prayer, dir. Pozdorovkin (2013)

Secondary Readings

Yuri Lotman, “The Symbolism of St. Petersburg”

Katerina Clark, Petersburg, Crucible of Cultural Revolution (excerpts)

Grigory Kaganov, "The Image of Petersburg Space, 1850-1900"

Svetlana Boym, “St. Petersburg, The Cosmopolitan Province” in The Future of Nostalgia

Julie Buckler, introduction to Mapping St. Petersburg: Imperial Text and Cityshape

Lisa Kirschenbaum, The Legacy of the Siege of Leningrad, 1941-1995 (excerpts)

Olga Matich, ed., Petersburg/Petersburg: Novel and City, 1900-1921 (excerpts)

Walter Benjamin, “Moscow”

Daniel Rowland, “Moscow: The Third Rome or the New Israel”

Yuri Lotman and Boris Uspensky, “‘Moscow as Third Rome’ in Peter the Great’s Ideology”

Joseph Bradley, “Moscow: From Big Village to Metropolis”

Orlando Figes, Chapter 3, “Moscow! Moscow!” in Natasha’s Dance

Katerina Clark, Moscow: The Fourth Rome (excerpts)

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