Spring 2020 Expanded Course Description

Russian Expanded Course Descriptions - Spring 2020


RUSSIAN 120 - Russian Humor and Comedy
Jenny Kaminer

CRN: 84257

GE credit: AH, OL, WC, WE

Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:40pm-3:00pm, 125 Olson
Russian culture is more than grim snowy landscapes and old bearded men pondering philosophical questions! This course will introduce students to some of the greatest—and funniest—works of Russian humor and comedy from the 19th century to the present day. We will read works by classic authors such as Nikolai Gogol and Anton Chekhov, as well as by well-known Soviet satirists such as Mikhail Zoshchenko and Mikhail Bulgakov. We will view several films from the Soviet period, including a musical comedy from the 1930s—Joseph Stalin’s favorite film! We will explore how writers, dramatists, and filmmakers have responded to the varying historical and political contexts of both Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union with works of humor and satire. Early in the quarter, we will also read some texts by those Russian thinkers (such as Vladimir Propp) who have theorized about the nature of humor and comedy and apply their terms and concepts to our later discussions. Throughout the quarter, we will attempt to define the salient characteristics of “Russian humor,” and to reflect upon what these characteristics reveal about Russian culture as a whole. And we will laugh early and often! Taught in English.

Required Texts:

  • Mikhail Bulgakov, The Fatal Eggs, trans. Michael Karpelson (Transit Publishing, 2010).
  • Venedikt Erofeev, Moscow to the End of the Line. Trans. H. William Tjalsma (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1994).
  • A Course Reader