RU 13186: Russian in Revolution (1891-1924): History, Politics, Literature, Film and the Arts

Instructor: Thomas Marullo

Literature University Seminar

What are revolutions? How do they begin, progress, and end?

“Russia in Revolution (1891-1924)” is rooted in two questions: What happens when a country abandons a three-hundred-year way of life, enters into repeated revolution and war, seeks heaven-on-earth, but achieves inferno and hell? Even more contradictory, perhaps, what happens when, at the same time, this country so revamps literature, art, film, music, and dance that it leads the arts in Europe in the beginning of the twentieth century?

Topics to be considered are the dynamics of revolution and war; the form and function of utopia and dystopia; the nature of imprisonment, liberation, and exile (physical, social, spiritual, and aesthetic); and, the nostalgia for Imperial Russia and the dismay at the new Soviet state. Other themes are: the “lost” man, woman, and child in the early twentieth century; the conflict between city and country, “old” and “new,” Russia and the West; the interplay of “patriarchal,” “maternal,” and “messianic” voices; the rise of man-gods and demagogues; and the role of memory and myth (archetypal, classical, and personal).

A crucial component will be the tie of history and politics to literature and the arts (painting, dance, song and film; decadence, modernism and socialist realism) in the critique of modernity at the fin de siecle and its implications for humankind. A key aspect of “Russia in Revolution (1891-1924)” is that students gain confidence and poise as speakers and writers.

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