Russian Literary Classics

06feb2018 23mrt2018


‘What was happening in Pushkin’s Russia … is extraordinarily reminiscent of what is happening in Putin’s Russia.’ Post-Soviet writer Mikhail Shishkin comes to this conclusion in an essay that juxtaposes Alexander Pushkin – Russia’s bestknown poet – with its illustrious current leader Vladimir Putin. In the nineteenth century, so Shishkin argues, Pushkin blazed the trail for many Russian writers to come when, ‘in opposition to the pyramid of power, at the head of which the Czar administers the fates of individuals and nations, he created an alternative pyramid, at the head of which stood the poet.’

Ever since Pushkin’s age, literary writers have exerted considerable social influence in Russia. Even if we discard the myth of Russian writers as intrinsically politicized beings, it is clear that they have long pondered what Shishkin calls ‘the “cursed” Russian question that occurs to every Russian born in an empire that is constantly waging war against foreigners and against its own people: how should one view this government and these people who are constantly waging these wars?’

In this course, students explore the nineteenth-century Russian literary classics with this disproportionate social engagement in view. The course focuses on the principal authors of 19th-Century Russian literature. Writers such as Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Chekhov gave Russia its place in world literature. In this course we will read, analyze, and discuss some of their major works, such as Death Souls, Crime and Punishment, and War and Peace. We will read parts of these novels, some shorter texts (stories) entirely, and discuss their plots, characters, and topics against the background of the biography of the writers, Russian cultural history, and the broader context of European literature.

Date, time, location and price

  • Date: 6 February - 23 March 2018
  • Time: Tuesdays, 13:00 - 15:00 and Fridays, 11:00 - 13:00
  • Number of seminars: 14
  • Location: P.C. Hoofthuis, room 1.15
  • Price: 210 / 189 (discount price for AUV-members)

Disclaimer: For the current timetable, always consult the UvA timetable website. The Illustere School is not responsible for changes in the timetable.

Important information

Course type Open UvA-Course
Education Seminars
Semester/blok Semester 2, block 1
Language English
Other You may only attend the seminars. It is not possible to partake in exams or obtain credits.
Deadline registration 29 January 2018 (subject to availability)


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After registration

Directly after signing up for a course you receive confirmation of your registration by e-mail. 


The tuition fee will be automatically deducted from your bank account. Registration for an Open UvA-Course for UvA employees is free. They follow a different procedure.


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Gepubliceerd door  Illustere School