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Special Topics: 19th Century Cannon


Fall 2018 Topic: Tolstoy & Dostoevsky

Nothing says "great literature" and "important novels," quite like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. The two Russian novelists continue to capture the Western imagination with works that tackle the big eternal questions. In this class we'll see that, as much as they have been assimilated into the Western canon, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky were emphatically and unabashedly Russian writers, first and foremost. They were deeply concerned with the political, philosophical, religious, social, and aesthetic questions of their own time and place - a tumultuous and rapidly industrializing Russia that was racing toward the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. In this class we will also consider how Tolstoy and Dostoevsky came to represent radically different ideas about narrative and the novel as a genre. Readings will include one major novel by each writer, as well as selected short works. Dostoevsky: Notes from the Underground, and The Brothers Karamazov. Tolstoy: Family Happiness, Anna Karenina, The Death of Ivan IlyichThe Kreutzer Sonata, and Hadji Murat.

Satisfies the cultural diversity requirement.
Satisfies the Literary Studies, Creative Writing, and Rhetoric requirement.
Counts as an elective in the English major and minor.
Satisfies a requirement in the Global Literary Theory interdisciplinary minor.


No knowledge of Russian required or expected.
Course is repeatable for credit given different topic/title.