FLCL 405  Word and Nationality: Tolerance in Post-Soviet Literature


Maria Rybakova





Mon   4:30 – 7:00 pm  OLIN 303



NEW: Foreign Language, Literature, & Culture

Cross-listed:  Russian and Eurasian Studies 

After the USSR was dissolved, it became clear that Russians still had many features of the “homo soveticus” that had been formed through the 1930s -70s. Among other things, despite the official ideology of internationalism and propaganda of “friendship among peoples,” the Soviet and post-Soviet Russian still exhibited xenophobia, antisemitism, and aggressive fear of the “other.” He seeks isolation from the world and sees himself as both underdog and superman at the same time. On the other hand, after the fall of communist ideology, Russians became better acquainted with religion, the philosophy of humanism, and the history of their own country. In the present situation in Russia, “others” are often seen not as neighbors, but as enemies in the ethnic, sexual, and even aesthetic sense. These feelings have been intensified by the war in Chechnya and the presence of many refugees and migrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia. On the other hand, many Russians have themselves had the experience of being foreign workers in or immigrants to other countries, giving rise to a new sense of the humanitarian aspects and the overall complexity of the problem. A growing interest in their own land and a new exploration of Russia by Russians has fueled new explorations of the concept of Russia as a multi-ethnic country. In this seminar, we plan to analyze several approaches to the topic of “self” and “other” in contemporary Russian literature: human (Fasil Iskander, Svetlana Alexievich), dehumanization (Vladimir Sorokin), suspension of judgement (Vladimir Makanin, Asar Eppel), grotesque (Viacheslav Pietsukh, Yuri Bujda), adaptation (Anastasia Gosteva), understanding (Marina Paley), contrast (Liudmila Petrushevskaya), self-sacrifice (Nina Gorlanova), stress (Anatoly Gavrilov); and, on the other hand, the Russian himself as “other” in another country (Maria Rybakova). Students will have the opportunity to present and discuss examples of their own creative writing. Conducted in English. (A section in Russian will be offered to fluent speakers.)