Russian Studies rises from the ashes

By James von Geldern

I would like to thank all the Macalester community members who have so strongly supported Russian Studies this year, and announce a new hire for our program, and our new course schedule for the fall. It is our great fortune that Svetlana Rukhelman (B.A. Harvard, M.A. Oxford, Ph.D. Harvard 2011) will be joining our faculty in the fall and we will be offering the following full menu of courses: RUSS101 Julia Chadaga Elementary Russian I MWF 9:40-10:40 Conversational labs for this class will be offered by Liza Kundas on Tuesdays: 101L 02 Kundas Lab T 9:40-11:10 101L 04 Kundas Lab T 3:00-4:30 RUSS203 Svetlana Rukhelman Intermediate Russian I MWF 9:40-10:40 Conversational labs for this class will be offered by Liza Kundas on Thursdays: 203L 02 Kundas Lab R 9:40-11:10 203L 04 Kundas Lab R 3:00-4:30 RUSS251 Svetlana Rukhelman Fate and Narrative in Russian Culture MWF 1:10-2:10 This course examines aspects of Russian culture, literature, and intellectual and political history by considering how the theme of fate is treated in works and excerpts from works by Pushkin, Lermontov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Bulgakov, Pasternak, Grossman and others. We will ask: how do these texts address themes of personal and national destiny, chance and divine predestination, fatalism as a belief system, scientific determinism and free will, the narrative arc of a person’s life, and the famous rússkii avós’ – “the Russian maybe”? Why are the word sud’bá, “fate” and the accompanying concept so central to the Russian mindset? Taught in English. RUSS294 Julia Chadaga Terrorism and Art: The Spectacle of Destruction MWF 10:50-11:50. Cross-listed with International Studies as INTL294 Russia presents an excellent case study for the topic of political violence. Terrorism as a means of political persuasion originated in the land of the tsars; Russian history features an incendiary chain of repressions followed by revolts, followed by reprisals, followed by revolutionary violence. The origins, depictions, and transformations of these events in art reveal how culture mediates between the world of ideas and the sphere of action. We will explore the tactics and motives of revolutionary conspirators, the role that gender and religion played in terrorist acts, and examine how Russian revolutionaries were models for radicals around the world. Russian terrorists’ emphasis on the aesthetic aspect of violence will inform our investigation of how art and society shape one another. The Russian example will serve as a framework for case studies from Algeria, Ireland, Germany, the U.S., and the Middle East. Texts will include novels, poems, manifestoes, letters, diaries, historical and journalistic accounts, paintings and films, as well as readings in cultural history and political theory. Taught in English. RUSS394 Svetlana Rukhelman Writers and Power in Eastern Europe TR 1:20-2:50. Cross-listed with International Studies as INTL317. Eastern European writers and filmmakers have long been prominent figures, reflecting their confrontation with the 20th century’s three most powerful ideologies: fascism, communism and democracy. This course explores the interactions between writers and these systems of power in the works of major figures such as Ionesco, Kundera, Havel, Milosz, Forman and Kusturica. We follow written and cinematic engagements with power at both social and individual levels and extend to broad questions of history and community. Thanks again for your support, and we hope to see you in the autumn. James von Geldern is Chair of Russian Studies. refresh –>