COMP 343
Spectacles on His Nose and Autumn on his Heart: The Oeuvre of Isaac Babel
Last Offered Fall 2013
Division I Writing Skills Exploring Diversity Initiative
Cross-listed INST 343 / RUSS 343 / GBST 343 / COMP 343 / JWST 343
This course is not offered in the current catalog or this is a previous listing for a current course.

Class Details

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.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 10
Class#: 1980
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active class participation, frequent short writing assignments, a final project, and an oral presentation
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Russian and Comparative Literature majors, Jewish Studies and Global Studies concentrators
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills Exploring Diversity Initiative
Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under RUSS or COMP; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under JWST or GBST
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
INST 343 Division II RUSS 343 Division I GBST 343 Division I COMP 343 Division I JWST 343 Division I
Attributes: GBST Russian + Eurasian Studies Electives

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