« Spring 2018 Summer 2018 Language Schools


CRN: 60632

Russian Humor
Understanding modern Russian culture is hardly possible without an understanding of Russian humor. Russian jokelore is a source of direct quotations, allusions, and pithy sayings used in Russian mass media and modern literature. Jokes are very popular in Russia, and joke-telling is practiced in every part of society, at all ages. Understanding Russian jokes requires not only good knowledge of Russian, but also general cultural knowledge. The analysis of what is taken for granted in Russian jokes shows that the conceptualization of the world in Russian jokelore (e.g., the vision of family life) differs not only from what is presented in American jokes but also from the worldview characteristic of ordinary Russian discourse. For many jokes, the audience must be in the know about recent political events, or popular TV advertising; in addition, they should be able to recognize the main characters that act in the fictitious world of the jokes. We will focus on different humor genres, such as popular Soviet genres “chastushki” and “anekdoty” (canned jokes) and modern Russian netlore, including memes, postcards, and “pirozhki.”


CRN: 60633

Literature and Empire
The goal of this course is to understand how the notion of the Russian state as empire was born, developed, and changed in Russian literature. We will see which recipes for the optimization or transformation of the Russian Empire were offered by Russian (and Soviet) writers to Russian society. The course will examine works of authors of the 19th and the 20th centuries, from the "era of Romanticism" to "the era of Stalin." Students will read and discuss non-canonical works of canonical authors (Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, Platonov) and works of authors relatively unknown in the West, but very important for Russian culture (N. Leskov, V. Korolenko).


CRN: 60639

CommunicativeHistory of Russia
Communicative History of Russia

History, as a discipline, is often understood as studying the history of facts. Let us step away from that conception and try to regard history as studying the history of connections, interconnections, relations, and interrelations. In fact, all classical literature of the 19th-20th centuries can be seen as dedicated to the solution of one global problem: do individuals build their own social relationships, or do social relations form the individual? Each proposition is as controversial as the other. And what about in reality? This is what we will discuss in the course, based on the examination of both literary works and the facts of Russian history. Today, when communicology is becoming a meaningful and sometimes crucial tool for understanding the present, an attempt to read and understand the historical through the prism of complex and often confusing social relationships cannot fail to be relevant.


CRN: 60631

Russia&China in GlobalPolitics
Russia and China in Global Politics

This course will examine problems in the role of China and Russia in the contemporary geopolitical situation. The People’s Republic of China and Russian Federation have become, in different ways, the most powerful challenges of the 21st century. As permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, they often speak out together against initiatives of Western European countries. But do they really, in this way, speak as one? What unites them and what separates them? We will try to understand the basis of each power’s foreign policy strategies. Russian tries to maintain its position in the world through maximal use of its energy potential. But China has proposed a different challenge – to rebuild the world on the basis, principally, of a new transcommunications project. How are these projects beginning to be realized, and how do they compete with each other? How will this affect the fate of the world?


CRN: 60630

Films of German and Muratova
German & Muratova: Auteur Cinema in Mainstream Soviet Culture

This course will explore the cinematic art, technique, and style of Aleksei German and Kira Muratova. In analyzing their films, which were outside of the mainstream, students will discover advancements in film aesthetics and techniques in the broader context of the continuous evolution of cinematic art and Soviet culture at large. The course incorporates readings of criticism, as well as detailed analyses and discussion of the cinematic works with two film screenings weekly.


CRN: 60629

Dostoevsky's Demons
Demons is one of Dostoevsky's four “great novels,” but is less well-known to the Western reader. In the Russian context, none of Dostoevsky's novels evoked such resonance – so many disputes, discussions, dissimilar (often mutually exclusive) judgments and assessments – and subsequently the novel was regarded as a “prophecy of Russian revolution.” The focus of our course will be the ideological content of the novel, its connection with the historical events of the era and with Dostoevsky's internal value system, the genesis of heroes and their ideas, and the system of artistic features of the novel built on an exciting, masterfully unfolded intrigue.

Davis School of Russian

Oliver Carling, Coordinator
P: 802.443.2006

Mailing address
Russian School
Middlebury College
14 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury, VT 05753