Smolny Beyond Borders

A Liberal Arts Initiative

Trauma Narratives in Contemporary Russian Literature

Trauma Narratives in Contemporary Russian Literature


Course Schedule:

Spring 2023 | Mon Thurs 10:10 - 11:30 EST

Semester: Spring 2023 | Monday, January 30 – Tuesday, May 23
Schedule: Mon Thurs 10.10 – 11.30 New York 
Language of Instruction:
Course Prerequisites: Russian B2 / Equivalent or higher
Subject: RES (Russian and Eurasian Studies) | Cross-Listing(s): N/A
Distribution Area: Foreign Languages and Literatures
Max Enrollment: 20
Level: 200
4 US / 8 ECT
Course Time Zone: Eastern Time (US/NY)
Professor’s Location and Time Zone: Tel Aviv, Israel

Course Description
Russian literature of the late 20th and early 21st centuries serves as a space for reflection on historical and socio-cultural catastrophes as well as on personal trauma. In post-Soviet literature, the text becomes not only a mode of representation but also a special “site of trauma,” or an attempt to refract a historical experience as inexpressible and unrepresentable. This course will address the relationship between traumatic experience and narrative constructed both in scholarly terms, via the problem of the construction of national and/or individual identity and the ways in which traumatic events are narrativized, and through the works of contemporary Russian novelists, such as Mikhail Shishkin, Oleg Strizhak, Maria Stepanova, Oksana Vasyakina, Polina Barskova, and other writers. We will explore the literary reflection on trauma as a special space of meaning and discuss its ability to transform the genre of documentary narrative. While investigating the “language of trauma” in contemporary Russian literature, we will study both the stylistic and linguistic devices unique to its creation, and the authors’ experiments with hybrid genres and intermediality. The Russian works from the late 20th and early 21st century which are central to the course include travelogues, novels, and essay collections, with a particular focus on Russian autobiographical prose and autofiction.

Registration is closed