Literature in Translation Courses Spring 2021

  • LITTRANS 202 – Survey Of 19th And 20th Century Russian Literature In Translation II

    (3 credits)

    • ONLINE (MWF 9:55-10:45 am)          Instructor: Andrew Reynolds

    Course Description: The course begins with an introduction to the study of literature and with an overview of some of the specific features of Russian history and culture in the 20th century. The first texts studied are short stories by Chekhov: this allows students to develop the habits of close reading that should stand them in good stead for the longer works. We will then survey the reasons for the revolutions in culture and politics in the period from 1892-1917. Our first novel is Zamyatin’s science-fiction dystopia We, precursor of 1984, Brave New World and countless other works. The themes most central to utopian and dystopian literature will be an important thread running through the semester. Our second novel, Olesha’s Envy, describes the clash of the “old” and “new” ways of life in the young and triumphalist Soviet state and the attempts of a “superfluous man” to find a place for himself in this new society. Nabokov’s novel Invitation to a Beheading is typical of this writer in its highly metaliterary and enigmatic narrative of an “outsider” who is condemned to death by an Alice-in-Wonderland–type world for the crime of “gnostical turpitude” (!); Nabokov argues that this text has little to do with the Soviet and Nazi tyrannies of the time, still less to do with Kafka, though some readers will disagree. Our next novel is often the students’ favorite – the unclassifiable Master and Margarita, with a cast list which includes a large talking black cat, Pontius Pilate and someone whose identity shall remain a mystery for the time being. Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was published in large part to help Khrushchev’s process of De-Stalinization, but this first truthful account of life in the Gulag, like the author itself, soon refused to conform to the “authorized readings” vainly imposed on it and can be seen as one of the books that helped lead to the collapse of the USSR. Venedikt  Erofeev’s Moscow to the End of the Line depicts a different type of resistance to the official “heroic” ideology – alcoholism and anti-social behavior as a form of self-martyrdom. The final text, Sorokin’s Day of the Oprichnik, written in 2006, is an uncannily prophetic dystopian satire on Russia in the year 2028; critics considered that many of the absurdities it portrays seemed extreme even for Sorokin, and yet today many of the horrors it foresaw have come to pass. Sorokin’s breaking of virtually all lexical and literary taboos in the depiction of extreme and absurd acts of sex and violence are offered as a way of overcoming the allegedly exhausted traditions of 20th-century Russian Literature.

    Prerequisites: None.

  • LITTRANS 204 – Survey Of 19th And 20th Century Russian Literature In Translation II (with discussion section for Communication-B credit)

    (4 credits)

    • ONLINE (MWF 9:55-10:45 am)          Instructor: Andrew Reynolds
      • DIS 301: ONLINE (R 9:55-10:45 am)
      • DIS 302: ONLINE (R 12:05-12:55 pm)

    Course Description: The course begins with an introduction to the study of literature and with an overview of some of the specific features of Russian history and culture in the 20th century. The first texts studied are short stories by Chekhov: this allows students to develop the habits of close reading that should stand them in good stead for the longer works. We will then survey the reasons for the revolutions in culture and politics in the period from 1892-1917. Our first novel is Zamyatin’s science-fiction dystopia We, precursor of 1984, Brave New World and countless other works. The themes most central to utopian and dystopian literature will be an important thread running through the semester. Our second novel, Olesha’s Envy, describes the clash of the “old” and “new” ways of life in the young and triumphalist Soviet state and the attempts of a “superfluous man” to find a place for himself in this new society. Nabokov’s novel Invitation to a Beheading is typical of this writer in its highly metaliterary and enigmatic narrative of an “outsider” who is condemned to death by an Alice-in-Wonderland–type world for the crime of “gnostical turpitude” (!); Nabokov argues that this text has little to do with the Soviet and Nazi tyrannies of the time, still less to do with Kafka, though some readers will disagree. Our next novel is often the students’ favorite – the unclassifiable Master and Margarita, with a cast list which includes a large talking black cat, Pontius Pilate and someone whose identity shall remain a mystery for the time being. Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was published in large part to help Khrushchev’s process of De-Stalinization, but this first truthful account of life in the Gulag, like the author itself, soon refused to conform to the “authorized readings” vainly imposed on it and can be seen as one of the books that helped lead to the collapse of the USSR. Venedikt  Erofeev’s Moscow to the End of the Line depicts a different type of resistance to the official “heroic” ideology – alcoholism and anti-social behavior as a form of self-martyrdom. The final text, Sorokin’s Day of the Oprichnik, written in 2006, is an uncannily prophetic dystopian satire on Russia in the year 2028; critics considered that many of the absurdities it portrays seemed extreme even for Sorokin, and yet today many of the horrors it foresaw have come to pass. Sorokin’s breaking of virtually all lexical and literary taboos in the depiction of extreme and absurd acts of sex and violence are offered as a way of overcoming the allegedly exhausted traditions of 20th-century Russian Literature.

    Prerequisites: None.

  • LITTRANS 207 – Slavic Science Fiction Through Literature And Film

    (3 credits)

    • ONLINE (TR 2:30-3:45 pm)          Instructor: David Danaher

    Course Description: In the United States, science fiction (SF) is typically thought of as a quintessentially American (or American-British) genre. This course explores the rich tradition of Slavic contributions to SF. We will survey major writers and their works in the Czech, Polish, and Russian contexts, most of which are little known in the US but are nonetheless, as we will see, fundamental to the genre. We will read these works as both anchored in their particular cultural-historical circumstances and also for their contribution to the development of SF as a world genre. In this regard, SF is perhaps the dominant contemporary genre for sociocultural commentary and critique aimed at reimagining the world in which we live, and Slavic SF texts have played a defining role in establishing SF as such. Since the rise of film coincides with the rise of modern SF and since the intertextual dimension in SF literature is particularly strong, we will also compare and contrast the literary works with, where available, their film adaptations.

    Prerequisites: None.

  • LITTRANS 224 – Tolstoy in Translation

    (3 credits)

    • ONLINE (TR 11:00 am-12:15 pm)          Instructor: Kirill Ospovat

    Course Description: In this course, we will read and discuss Tolstoy’s lengthier and shorter masterpieces, from War and Peace to The Strider, alongside some of his nonfictional manifestoes. We will explore his techniques of representation and ethical stances and trace their evolution through Tolstoy’s long literary career. What were Tolstoy’s objections to sexuality and political reform? What is moral and beautiful? How does civilization and education relate to nature?  What does death say about life? These are some of the questions that we will investigate while reading Tolstoy’s manifold work.

    Prerequisites: Sophomore status or consent of instructor.

  • LITTRANS 234 – Soviet Life And Culture Through Literature And Art (From 1917)

    (3-4 credits)

    • Section 001: ONLINE (MWF 2:25-3:15 pm)          Instructor: Jennifer Tishler
      • DIS 301: ONLINE (T 2:25-3:15 pm)
    • Section 002 (LEC only): ONLINE (MWF 2:25-3:15 pm)          Instructor: Jennifer Tishler

    Course Description: This course presents a survey of Russian artistic, intellectual, social, and popular culture of the Soviet period (1917-1991). It assumes no previous knowledge of Russian culture or language. In this course, we will examine key examples of Soviet-era literature, propaganda posters, paintings, music, and films. We will also read several political essays about art and culture, in order to better understand the interaction between politics and culture between 1917 and 1991. Students who enroll for the discussion section/4th credit will work on an additional research project on Russian Soviet culture.

    Prerequisites: None.

  • SCAND ST 274 – Masterpieces Of Scandinavian Literature: The Twentieth Century

    (3 credits)

    • ONLINE (TR 12:05-12:55 pm)        Instructor: Susan Brantly

    Course Description: Can thrillers, science fiction novels, or films be literary masterpieces? Yes, they can! Explore the changing fashions in literature throughout the 20th Century, while you learn important survival skills for the media age. Everybody wants something, so how do you assess what different writers want from you, and what tricks do they use to go about getting it? Through a selection of short texts, novels, and plays, we’ll be learning from some of the best: Nobel Laureates (Knut Hamsun, Pär Lagerkvist), medical doctors (P.C. Jersild), and other provocateurs (August Strindberg, Isak Dinesen, Ingmar Berman, Peter Hoeg, and the rest).

    Prerequisites: Fourth credit for Comm-B students only. Open to first-year students.

  • LITTRANS 275 – In Translation: The Tales Of Hans Christian Andersen

    (3-4 credits)

    • Section 001 (LEC only): ONLINE (MWF 8:50-9:40 am)          Instructor: Claus Elholm Andersen
    • Section 002: ONLINE (MWF 8:50-9:40 am)                                Instructor: Claus Elholm Andersen
      • DIS 301: ONLINE (T 11:00-11:50 am)
      • DIS 302: ONLINE (W 11:00-11:50 am)
      • DIS 303: ONLINE (M 3:30-4:20 pm)
      • DIS 304: ONLINE (R 9:55-10:45 am)
      • DIS 305: ONLINE (M 12:05-12:55 pm)
      • DIS 306: ONLINE (W 9:55-10:45 am)

    Course Description: Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales are known all over the world. He wrote The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, The Ugly Duckling and many, many more. This course to going to familiarize you with the works of Hans Christian Andersen, with an emphasis on his fairy tales. During the course, we will read and analyze some of his best-known fairytales, but also look at a few texts from some of the other genres he mastered. Our readings will include the biographical traits of his stories, but will primarily focus on his mastery of the genre and his complex narrative method. We will also talk about the time and place in which Hans Christian Andersen wrote his fairytales – Denmark in the 19th century ­– and discuss how this influenced his stories. Though his stories/tales might seem simply, they are complex literary artifacts. This course will argue that Andersen should be considered one of the great authors of the 19th century, not just an author of simple fairy tales for children.

    Prerequisites: Fourth credit for Comm-B students only. Open to first-year students.

  • LITTRANS 326 – Travel: Body And Mind

    (3 credits)

    • ONLINE (TR 2:30-3:45 pm)          Instructor: Jolanda Vanderwal Taylor

    Course Description: This course considers texts (novels, short stories, and films) from the Dutch-language literary tradition that take a voyage—physical, mental, emotional, cross-cultural—as their topic. While the emphasis will be on contemporary texts, we will also look at select examples from earlier periods (the Age of Discovery, colonial period) that invite the reader into experiences of voyages across time, space, and cultures.

    As we read wonderful stories, we will ask ourselves how texts entertain, challenge, and educate the reader, how they provide an aesthetic experience while they (re)present difference, and how they engage “big questions” such as:

    • What is travel? Why do we travel?
    • What can travel tell us about ourselves, about our (sub-)cultures, and about the role of languages in our lives? Does travel allow us to learn about the cultures and people we encounter? About ourselves?
    • In a multicultural world, can a voyage toward cross-cultural understanding happen through personal interaction as well as through engagement with texts?
    • Can travel be a metaphor for life? –an interruption of “normal” life? –a learning experience?
    • Can literary texts approximate a voyage? Is the learning, the irritation, the pleasure of travel transferable? How does a text accomplish this communication?
    • What questions should readers ask themselves and each other as they read and as they interact in the world?
    • Are we grieving because travel is impossible during the pandemic? How can texts “tide us over,” and how will you approach travel when it’s again possible?

    This course invites its participants to read attentively, to think carefully, and to discuss thoughtfully and vigorously. It also counts as a cognate course for the German major.

    Prerequisites: At least one intermediate level course in literature.

  • LITTRANS 329 – The Vampire In Literature And Film

    (3 credits)

    • ONLINE          Instructor: Jared Schmidt

    Course Description: Explores the image of the vampire in literature and visual arts as a metaphor for Eastern Europe and the Slavic world. Begins with folklore and moves through literary texts to film and television.

    Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or consent of instructor.