E 322 • Solzhenitsyn: The Writer as Witness
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
An exploration of the novels (Cancer Ward, The First Circle) and historical writing (Gulag Archipelago) of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for 1970.
The Gulag Archipelago was Solzhenitsyn's attempt to compile a literary-historical record of the vast system of Soviet prisons and labor camps that underwent an enormous expansion during the rule of Stalin (1924-53). Various sections of the work describe the arrest, interrogation, conviction, transportation, and imprisonment of the Gulag's victims. The work mingles historical exposition and Solzhenitsyn's own autobiographical accounts with the personal testimony of other inmates that he collected and committed to memory during his imprisonment. The course will locate Solzhenitsyn in the context of other important anti-utopian writers of the 20th century such as George Orwell.
All readings are in English.
Short Essay (5 pp) w/rewrite 20%
Essay (10-12 pp.) w/thesis, introductory paragraph, and outline (2 pp.) 50%
Quizzes/Informed Participation in Class Discussion 30%
NO FINAL EXAM
Attendance: Students are permitted two absences over the course of the semester. Further absence will count against the student's participation grade.
Quizzes: Throughout the semester there will be approximately 5 unscheduled quizzes in a brief in-class essay format. Each student's lowest quiz grade will be dropped. There will be no remakes, and if a student misses a quiz then that will become the grade dropped.