Carnegie Mellon University

20th Century Russian Masterpieces

Course Number: 82-295

Fulfills "Contextual Thinking" Gen Ed requirement.

The October Revolution of 1917 had profound effects not only for Russian society, but also for literature and culture. Even before the Revolution, Vladimir Lenin stressed the importance of literature on the hearts and minds of people. After the Revolution, the new Soviet state demanded writers to become, in Stalins words, engineers of human souls, and proclaimed socialist realism as the only permissible method of creative work in literature. This course focuses on masterpieces of Russian prose and poetry of the 20th century. Readings will include the proletarian writings of Maxim Gorky, the symbolism of Alexander Blok, the futurism and modernism of Vladimir Mayakovsky, as well as works by many other authors. We will discuss such important issues for Russian cultural history as the role of the intelligentsia in the Russian Revolution; the content and method of Russian decadence; symbolism and modernism; and the experience of imprisonment, liberation, and exile that became so important for many writers and poets.

No prior knowledge of Russian language or culture is required. The course is conducted in English, but students will have the option to do work in Russian for three extra course units.

View the Schedule of Classes for more details

Units: VAR
Prerequisite(s): None