COMP 343 Spectacles on His Nose and Autumn on his Heart: The Oeuvre of Isaac Babel (D) (W)

Last offered Fall 2013

Cross Listed as JWST343, RUSS343, INST343
Known alternately as "master of the short story" and "Russian Maupassant," Isaac Babel was not only one of the most celebrated and intriguing authors of early Soviet Russia, but also a cultural figure of profound national and international significance. For a number of reasons (political, aesthetic, professional, ethical) Babel was not prolific and this will allow us to read almost all of his creative output, something we rarely get to do in the course of a single semester. Babel's writing is extremely varied--it includes sketches, journalistic prose, short stories, plays, movie scripts, one unfinished novel--and richly intertextual. This will afford us the opportunity to read the work of some of his contemporaries and predecessors, from both Russia and abroad, with whom he fashioned brilliant literary conversations, among them Guy de Maupassant, Anton Chekhov, Sholem Aleichem, and Ivan Turgenev. Babel saw self-definition as the core of his writing and as an EDI offering, this course will ask students to reflect on what it meant to be a Russian, a Jew, and a non-party author--an outsider, insider, and problematic hybrid rolled into one--in the highly unsettled, and unsettling, 1920s and 1930s. All course readings will be in translation, but students are highly encouraged to read in the original (Russian, French, Yiddish) whenever possible.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: active class participation, frequent short writing assignments, a final project, and an oral presentation
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Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: Russian and COMP majors, JWST and INST concentrators
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Distribution Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under RUSS or COMP; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under JWST or INST
Divisional Attributes: Division I,Exploring Diversity, Writing Intensive
Other Attributes: INST Russian + Eurasian Studies Electives
Enrollment Limit: 12
Expected Enrollment: 10
Class Number: 1980
COMP 343 SEM The Oeuvre of Isaac Babel (D) (W) Division 1: Languages and the ArtsExploring Diversity InitiativeWriting Intensive Janneke van de Stadt
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