In English. No prerequisites.

Love and death push at the edges of the human experience, and writers of every era take up the challenge of depicting these ideas afresh. Moreover, these central existential categories provide a lens for writers to reveal the wider social reality around them, often in an intensely personal way. Our class will trace the evolution of love and death within the Russian short story form over almost two centuries, produced by some of the greatest writers of the Russian language, including Alexander Pushkin, Nikolai Gogol, Lev Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Zinaida Gippius, Andrei Platonov, Yuri Trifonov, Lyudmila Petrushevskaya and Lyudmila Ulitsakaya, among many others. We will consider how together, “love” and “death” drive storytelling and forge bonds between stories and readers. Why do we ‘believe’ in love or death in a given story? Do we seek to be inspired by stories of ‘ideal love’ or ‘beautiful death’? Do we prefer to follow realistic depictions of human desire, violence, and tragedy? Or might we be drawn to grotesque or surreal renderings of these existential forces? And what cultural-historical situations might lead writers and readers towards preferring one form over another?

All readings and discussion in English. Fulfills SAS core goals AH o, p; WC d.