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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2005

E 322 • Siberia in the Russian Imagination: Literature and Anthropology

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
32090 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM

Course Description

Even after the break-up of the Soviet Union, the country known officially as the Russian Federation remains a multi-ethnic state. This course is an interdisciplinary exploration of the complex interactions between Russians and the various native peoples of Siberia over the past century through texts drawn from fiction, autobiographical writing, as well as ethnographic and other non-fictional works that chart this vast and complex terrain. This course is an investigation of how Russians have attempted to come to terms with Siberia over the course of a century. From the end of the last century, we read Chekhov’s astonishing account of conditions on the island of Sakhalin, followed by V. K. Arsen’ev’s memoir, written just before the revolution, about a native hunter in the Amur valley who befriends the leader of a Russian mapping expedition. Fiction by Fadeev, Shukshin, and Valentin Rasputin reflect the various ways in which Russian writers have imagined the Siberian landscape in this century. This course will also view and discuss films by directors whose work relates to the course’s themes, including Kurosawa’s Deru Uzala and Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky’s Siberiade.

Grading Policy

1) Regular attendance and participation
2) Completion of required reading by the date assigned (see syllabus)
3) Course Work/Course Credit:
Short Essay (4-5 pages) 10%
Outline, Draft, Thesis statement for Long Essay (2 pages: ungraded) Long Essay (12-14 pages) 50%
Informed Participation in Class Discussion/Quizzes 40%


(all readings in English)
Anton Chekhov, A Journey to Sakhalin (new translation by Brian Reeves)
V. K. Arsen’ev, Dersu Uzala
Aleksandr Fadeev, The Rout
Vassily Shukshin, Stories from a Siberian Village
Valentin Rasputin, Farewell to Matyora
M. Mandelstam Balzer, Culture Incarnate: Native Anthropology from Russia


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