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Mary Neuburger, Chair BUR 452, 2505 University Avenue, Stop F3600, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-3607

Fall 2005

RUS 391 • Russian Formalism: Theory In Historical Context

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
45133 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM

Course Description

"Who is Russian Formalism? What is She?" Peter Steiner has asked, and in this seminar we will search for a coherent definition of this most protean of movements. We will examine the evolutionary significance of Russian Formalist theory as a framework for how literature develops. Most importantly, we will try to locate the work of Shklovskii, Tynianov, and other Russian Formalists in the cultural and intellectual contexts of the tumultuous period of revolution in which it arose.

Format: Seminar discussion, occasional lecture.

Grading Policy

Essay (12-15 pages), thesis statement, introductory paragraph, and outline (2 pages) 50% Quizzes/Informed Participation in Class Discussion 40% Presentation 10%

Quizzes: Throughout the semester there will be approximately 5-6 unscheduled quizzes in a brief in-class essay format. The lowest quiz grade will be dropped. There will be no make-ups under any circumstances. Attendance: students are permitted two absences over the course of the semester. Further absence will count against the student's participation grade. Essay: Each student will develop his or her own research topic over the course of the semester with input from the instructor. Essays should include a close but imaginative reading of the novel with an awareness of scholarship relevant to the topic. The thesis statement, outline, and introductory paragraph will be submitted by mid-November (see syllabus) for (ungraded) critique.


Peter Steiner, Russian Formalism, A Metapoetics. I. R. Titunik, The formal method and the sociological method (M. M. Bakhtin, P. N. Medvedev, V. N. Volosinov) in Russian theory and study of literature/ Marxism and the philosophy of language. Frederic Jameson, The Prison-House of Language: A Critical Account of Structuralism and Russian Formalism. Leon Trotsky, Literature and Revolution. Viktor Shklovskii, O teorii prozy. Iurii Tynianov, Arkhaisty i novatory.


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