Course Requirements for Russian Literature
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Requirements for Russian Literature
For this course there will be two artistic assignments and four essays. Also, each student will prepare a fairy tale to tell to the class.
Lecture notes dated and in final form (typed or ink) must be included at the back of the block book and are equal in value to one essay.
There will be occasional quizzes and a final
Friday, October 5
Artistic Assignment #1: Illustration of a Fairy Tale
Illustrate a scene from your assigned fairy tale. It must be captioned with an appropriate quotation from the fairy tale.
Tuesday, October 9
Essay #1: Comparison of “The Bronze Horseman” and “The Overcoat”
Here are some themes you might consider:
Similarities and differences of Evgeny and Akakii
Two meek and relatively insignificant office workers are crushed by forces of nature and society. You could compare their dreams, their failings, their bravery, their weakness, their effect on others.
Peter the Great in the two stories
Peter the Great is mentioned explicitly in the poem, but his influence on the city he created is also felt in the short story. How does Peter’s imperious manner and love of grandeur directly or indirectly drive the events in each tale?
St. Petersburg as a character
The city itself is almost a character in each tale. What is its personality? How does it contribute to the unfolding of events?
Forces of nature vs. human forces
Nature’s power and indifference as well as human power and indifference play a role in the fate of the two heroes. How do the two complement and reinforce each other? Where are there acts of kindness, of indifference, of cruelty?
Comparison of the Bronze Horseman and the Very Important Person
Both are frightening authority figures, and encounters with them bring about changes in both Evgeny and Akakii.
In both stories, meek unassuming characters are finally roused to wish for revenge. Are they successful or not? If they are successful, is the revenge satisfying?
Power and powerlessness
Who has power in each story and how does he use it? Are power and powerlessness associated with good and evil?
Objects of desire and longing
Does love have the power to transform something or someone ordinary into something rare and beautiful? Does the act of loving have a transforming effect on the person who loves?
You are not required to address all of these suggestions. You are not required to limit yourself to these suggestions. They are intended to spark your thinking. I am interested in any creative links or comparisons you can draw between the two stories. All observations must be supported by references to or quotations from the stories.
Monday, October 15
Essay #2: Two Choices: An Imaginary Conversation or An Essay
Choice #1: A Conversation
Choose one character from “The Grand Inquisitor” and one character from “What Men Live By”. Create some sort of meeting place and bring them into conversation with each other. The conversations should demonstrate familiarity with both stories and further illuminate the characters.
• The woman whose child was raised from the dead meets Simon’s wife Matryona and they compare their experiences.
• The Grand Inquisitor comes to Simon’s shoe shop and the two have a conversation.
• Simon and Ivan have a conversation about whether life is worth living.
• Mikhail accuses the Grand Inquisitor of deceit.
You may write an essay addressing one of the following themes, drawing on both stories.
• Freedom: Can human beings be free? Why is freedom a fearful gift?
• Suffering: Does the fact that innocent humans suffer unfairly make human existence intolerable?
• Love: How are different characters in the two stories touched and transformed by acts of love?
Wednesday, October 17
Artistic Assignment #2: Portrait of a Russian Author
We will meet many novelists, dramatists and poets in this block, and I will nearly always show you their portrait. Choose the one you like best, and create your own portrait.
The portrait must be clearly captioned with the author’s name and a quotation from their work.
Thursday, October 18
Essay #3: Monologue in the Voice of a Character from “The Cherry Orchard”
Ten years have passed since the Cherry Orchard was sold. The year is approximately 1900. Write in the first person in the voice of one of the characters.
Where are you now? What is your life like? Looking back at the events around the selling of the Cherry Orchard, how do you feel about them now? Do you regret any of your actions? Do you blame anyone? What do you think, hope, imagine as you look into the future.
About 300 - 500 words
Monday, October 22
Essay #4: Meditation on a Poem
Choose any poem we have studied in this block. Read it many times.
Write an extended essay, using the poem as a starting point. You are free to go in any direction. The poem, the poet, its message, its craft, the associations it brings - all may be the subject matter for a personal essay.
The following questions are intended to be helpful and to get you started. You need not address them all.
• When, by whom, and under what circumstances was the poem written?
• What sensory images -- appeals to sight, sound, taste, smell, touch -- does the poem contain?
• What symbols, allusions, similes, metaphors do you find? Don’t just list these, explore them.
• What associations does the poem have for you?
• What illumination does the poem provide into the life or personality of the poet?
• What illumination does the poem provide into its time in history?
• What illumination does the poem provide into your own experience?
• What illumination does the poem provide into universal human experience?
• Why is this poem worth reading today?
At least 700 words (two full pages)
Fairy Tale Schedule
Tell your story as vividly as you can. Do your best to tell it without notes. You will be graded on expressiveness, accuracy and clarity as well as independence from notes.
Wednesday, October 3
The Frog Princess Casey
Friday, October 5
The Fiddler in Hell Nora
Wednesday, October 10
Jack Frost Natalie
Thursday, October 11
Friday, October 12
The Maiden Tsar Eden
Tuesday, October 26
Ivanko the Bear’s Son Maddie
Wednesday, October 17
The Princess Who Never Smiled Yarden
Friday, October 19
Tuesday, October 23
The Enchanted Ring Claire
Wednesday, October 24
The Armless Maiden Rochelle
Thursday, October 25
The Firebird and Princess Vasilisa Joanna