RUSSIAN LITERATURE III
Learning outcomes of the course unit
This approach to Russian literature texts will offer to the students a basic knowledge and understanding in the field of the Russian literary culture in the XIX century.
During the course, the student learns to
- understand the late nineteenth century Russian literary scene and, through the prism of a literary monument as War and Peace, to grasp the historical, political, cultural and artistic panorama where it has taken that specific form;
- approach to literary texts in the original language, highlighting the formal characteristics and linking them with all the vivid polemics of the so-called Great Reforms Era;
find independently additional information on the topics discussed bibliography using both in print and digital material;
make judgments informed and motivated, based on a careful decoding of the text:
- refine the method of slow reading by applying it freely to other texts, exposing their interpretations in the light of the critical literature on the subject.
Course contents summary
A Baggy Monster: War and Peace. A Slow Reading of a anti-novel novel
Voina i mir (War and Peace), written by Tolstoy between 1863 and 1869, is universally considered one of the greatest historical novels ever written.
This great epic narrative, involving five hundred characters, rather than a historical novel is a novel about the history, but Tolstoy was convinced that he had written a "book" and not a "novel": "What is War and Peace? It is not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less an historical chronicle. War and Peace is what the author wished and was able to express in the form in which it is expressed. Such an announcement of disregard of conventional form in an artistic production might seem presumptuous were it premeditated and were there no precedents for it. But the history of Russian literature since the time of Pushkin not merely affords many examples of such deviation from European form, but does not offer a single example of the contrary. From Gogol’s Dead Souls to Dostoevski’s House of the Dead, in the recent period of Russian literature there is not a single artistic prose work rising at all about mediocrity, which quite fits into the form of a novel, epic, or story" (L. Tolstoj, Some Words about War and Peace).
Moving from the specificity of this work, the course will offer students a path of slow reading, which aims to reflect on the possibilities of the novel's genre in Russia, its boundaries and its claim to place itself above and beyond the art and fiction, in pursuit of a single subject: "all human life!" according to the acid definition of Henry James.
Л.Н. Толстой, Война и мир, Полное собрание сочинений в 90 томах, тт. 9-12 (http://www.bookva.org/books/384)
M. Colucci (ed. by), Storia della civiltà letteraria russa, Utet.
Literature and complete programm will be published on the course page on the site LEA at the beginning of the course (http://lea.unipr.it
Classroom lectures with audiovisual materials and oral discussion. During the lectures the professor will introduce the main elements of the historical and cultural context, the author's profile and the novel, using both the bibliography of the course and additional visual or textual materials, that will be available on the platform LEA. Suggestions for individual path of study and analysis will be provided, to stimulate a more original and independent approach to the subject.
Assessment methods and criteria
Oral examination, paper on course issues (optional)
The oral examination will check
- Knowledge of texts, authors, their ideological context and formal issues of the literary period in question;
- Adequate ability to study independently, to re-elaborate personally the material learned during the course, to propose individual insights that go beyond the topics covered in the course, to solve problems decoding complex texts, and make independent judgments.
In order to verify the achievement of such knowledge and skills, oral test questions are designed to assess the knowledge, the ability of independent and original reworking of such knowledge, and the ability to apply knowledge through the analysis of the text and to extend it through connections, comparisons and contrasts.
The examination won't be considerated sufficient when the student can't demontrate a minimum understanding of the course material and the necessary ability to work autonomously with the course's content. Sufficient evaluation (18-23/30) is determined by the demonstration by the student to have learned the basic and minimum contents of the course, a sufficient level of self-preparation, ability to solve problems related to information retrieval and decoding of texts, as well as the formulation of independent judgment. Scores between 24 and -27 are assigned to the student who produces evidence of a level more than sufficient (24-25/30) or good (26-27/30) evaluation indicators listed above. Higher scores (from 28/30 to 30/30 cum laude) are awardedin presence of a very good to excellent evaluation.