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Russian 6633: Course Description

RUSSA 4433 and RUSSA 6633 in the course catalog are the same course, the one described below. Cornell's enrollment system requires that undergraduates enroll in 4433 while graduate students enroll in 6633 for purely administrative reasons.

This is a TBA course. TBA means "time to be arranged" (to accommodate as many students as we can). We hold an organizational meeting for all TBA courses at the beginning of each semester. The time and place of the meeting are posted under "Current Announcements" at our home page, (click Welcome in the navigation bar on the left).

Russian 6633 is a variable credit course. When it meets twice a week for 50 minutes each time, register for three credit hours. When it meets once a week, register for two credit hours. The decision is made at the organizational meeting where the materials and format for the course are discussed and defined

The course is open to native as well as non-native speakers of Russian.

This course is taught differently each year depending on the interests of the students who take it. This is discussed at the organizational meeting or in the first class.

This is what the course did in Fall 2022.

Monday class sessions were devoted to reading and in-depth discussion of short stories by various Russian writers (N. Gogol, F. Dostoevsky, A. Chekhov, A. Kuprin, M. Bulgakov, A. Platonov, L. Petrushevskaya, A. Kurkov, D. Bykov--specific stories listed on Canvas). On Wednesdays, students met with a widely popular Russian author and prominent public intellectual Dmitriy Bykov, who gave short lectures and led seminars on creative writing in various genres and on different topics.

Here is what we did in Fall 2021.

As discussed at the organizational meeting, we read, discussed, and sometimes translated short stories from the 2nd half of the XX century and the XXI century. We welcomed Azamat Gabuev, a writer from Moscow, to play with us while he was spending the semester at Cornell as a Fulbright researcher. We included some of Azamat's writing in our translation projects, as well as excerpts from the memoirs by Lena's grandfather that she had already started translating--both of these were translations from Russian to English.

Here is what we did in Fall 2019.

At the organizational meeting, the vote was for reading short prose--or excerpts from longer pieces--written and published in the late XX and early XXI centuries. This worked well until at some point in the middle of the semester, someone asked, Are these famous authors that we are reading? Oops! No, not really, it takes time for an author to become established and grow a beard. So we looked back, to somewhere before Sergei Dovlatov, and decided to read a few short stories by Vladimir Nabokov. That should have naturally led the syllabus to an even earlier Russian author, Ivan Bunin, but we ran out of time... What we did with the stories was simple: we talked about the themes and their development. The pieces, including Nabokov's, were selected among those masterpieces (including some from the XXI century) that could help us figure out what kind of person was "the Russian" portrayed in popular short stories and essays where the audience was to be shocked and educated--not entertained; given what Russian literature has always been, that wasn't too hard.

Here is what we did in Fall 2017.

We'll put together a list of culturally significant films produced in Russia over the past couple of decades, plus, whenever possible, short pieces of fiction on related themes, and discuss these once a week, with emphasis on historical, political, and social analysis. That's one credit hour's worth of work. In addition, those students who enroll for 2 credit hours, will write a short essay (under one page) and submit it during the class, to offer and discuss the same set of ideas and observations.

Here is what we did in Fall 2014.

Each student will select a theme or a subject or an area that he or she is interested in. This may be the same throughout the semester or different on different weeks. Each student will do independent online research and prepare a ten-minute presentation on his or her latest discoveries. The presentation does not need to be formal, but it must be organized and clear, so the audience who may know nothing about the subject could take away a good understanding of the delivered information. You may consult your notes as you speak, but please do not read them aloud: the class is semi-formal, discussion (including interruptions) is expected and encouraged, and questions will be asked.

Here is what we did in Fall 2013.

Каждый из студентов находит на Рунете статью на очередную тему из списка, который был предложен студентами в начале семестра (и может совместно пересматриваться по ходу дела), рассылает адрес статьи за несколько дней до занятия, чтобы все могли прочитать все статьи и подготовиться к обсуждению. Вместе с адресом можно разослать и вопросы для обсуждения. На занятии мы обсуждаем предложенные статьи и тему вообще и делаем звукозапись ключевых моментов (например, лучшие формулировки каких-то мыслей или исправление неправильных/неточных высказываний). Эти записи все могут прослушать потом для повторения/закрепления. Темы и линки к предложенным статьям (и, возможно, вопросы для обсуждения) будут постепенно добавляться в Syllabus page.

Последний список тем таков:

  1. «Пропаганда Гомосексуализма» в России
  2. Миграция населения (за пределы России и бывшего СССР)
  3. Генеральный план Москвы/Москва будущего
  4. Влияние России на ближних соседей (например, Приднестровье, Украину, Грузию, Азербайждан, Казахстан и др.). Россия - игрок на международной арене
  5. Китай и Россия
  6. Переход от социализма к капитализму (?) в России
  7. Россия 90-х годов
  8. Нефтяная политика России
  9. Права и положение женщин в России и в СССР
  10. Проблемы водных ресурсов в России и Центральной Азии
  11. Религия в СССР и в пост-советских странах региона

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Dept. of Comparative Literature • Russian Language Program • 240 Goldwin Smith Hall • Cornell University • Ithaca, NY 14853-4701, USA
tel. 607/255-4155 • fax 607/255-8177 • email