RUSS 401
What is the Intelligentsia? Fall 2023
Division I Difference, Power, and Equity

Class Details

The word “intelligentsia” in its modern meaning first appeared in Russia in the middle of the 19 th century, though the concept has a rather long pre-history. The Russian intelligentsia as a social class took shape among the educated raznochintsy and aristocratic proponents of western ideas who had been freed from obligatory state service. These conditions provided them with limited freedom and independence, and also gave them the opportunity to devote their time to culture, creation, and science. This state of affairs was favorable for the development of the distinguishing characteristic of the intelligentsia: critical thought, both in relation to authority and to oneself. In this course we will study the history, ethic and tradition of the intelligentsia from the times of the tsars until the present day. In particular, we will explore the following questions: what is the difference between being educated and belonging to the intelligentsia? How does the intelligentsia relate to the history and tradition of socialism? How is the intelligentsia connected with humanism? What is the fate of the intelligentsia in an industrial or totalitarian society? And what role does this tradition play today? In order to answer these questions, we will read authentic historical texts and scholarly literature, watch films and listen to lectures by the foremost specialists on the subject. Of course, we will also work on perfecting your knowledge of the Russian language.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 5-10
Class#: 1874
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Daily work (reading, preparing questions for discussion) 25%; weekly 1-2 page short written assignments (responses to open-ended questions about the daily readings) 25%; 2 short 10 minute presentations (on two illustrious works or figures) 25%; 1 final project, longer researched presentation 10-15 minutes 25%.
Prerequisites: Three years of Russian or instructor's consent.
Enrollment Preferences: RUSS or COMP
Distributions: Division I Difference, Power, and Equity
DPE Notes: This course will be devoted to historical examples of people who were often persecuted for their political affiliation, their class, or their critical stance in an environment that rewarded servility and conformity. It will also explore the stories of the non-Russian intelligentsia in the Soviet Union, the discrimination and terror that they faced, as well as the principled, humanistic ethic that they espoused during periods of national conflict.

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