Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
complit masthead
Dr. Wayne Rebhorn, Director 208 W. 21st St. Stop B5003, Austin, Tx 78712 • 512-471-1925

Michael Pesenson

Assistant Professor Ph.D, Yale University

Assistant Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies
Michael Pesenson

Contact

Biography

Michael Pesenson, Assistant Professor of Slavic and Eurasian Studies.  Graduate work at Yale University.  Research interests: medieval East and South Slavic literatures, Russian baroque literature and culture, nineteenth century Russian literature and culture, early Russian opera and theater, apocalyptic themes in Russian literature, literary dystopias.  Recent publications: “Antichrist at the Gates: Apocalyptic Discourse in Russia Surrounding the Napoleonic Invasion of 1812.” (Russian Review); “The Sibylline Tradition in Medieval and Early Modern Orthodox Slavic Culture.” (Old Testament Apocrypha in the Slavonic Tradition. Ed. L. DiTommaso and C. Boettrich. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism); “Nicolae Milescu Spafarii’s ‘Khrismologion’ and ‘Skazanie o Sivillakh’: Prophecies of Power in Late Seventeenth Century Russia.”  (Religion and National Identity in Russia and the Soviet Union: A Festschrift for Paul Bushkovitch). Current book project: Antichrist in Russia: Images of the Apocalypse in Russian Literature and Culture from the Middle Ages to the ‘Silver Age’. 

C L 323 • War/Revolutn In Rus Lit/Cul

33149 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 930am-1100am BUR 228
(also listed as REE 325 )
show description

This exciting course explores Russian literary and cinematic responses to the ravages of war and revolution, heroic and bloody conflicts that repeatedly devastated the country throughout its long and tumultuous history. We will read a variety of texts dealing with the Napoleonic invasion, the Caucasus campaign, the Revolution of 1917, the Civil War, World War II, the Cold War, the Afghan War, and the present-day conflict in Chechnya, and explore how individual writers portrayed the calamity of war and its devastating effect on people’s lives, while expressing hope for ever-elusive peace and universal brotherhood. All readings and discussion will be English. All films will be screened with English subtitles.

 

Texts:

  1. L. Tolstoy, Hadji Murad
  2. L. Tolstoy, War and Peace
  3. M. Bulgakov, White Guard
  4. I. Babel, Red Cavalry
  5. V. Grossman, Life and Fate
  6. V. Pelevin, Omon Ra
  7. Selections from journalistic accounts of A. Borovik and A. Politkovskaya on wars in Chechnya and Afghanistan

 

Requirements and Grading

-       Keeping up with the readings and participation in class discussion       10% 

-       3-4 response papers to readings (2 pages), topics TBA                     30% 

-       Midterm paper (Tolstoy) (6-8 pages)                                           30% 

-       Final Paper (8-10 pages)                                                          30% 

C L 323 • Intro Old Russian Lit & Cul

33870 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm PAR 301
(also listed as REE 325, REE 385, RUS 330 )
show description

This course serves as an introduction to the colorful and exotic literature and culture of medieval and early modern Russia.  Over the course of the semester, we will learn about all aspects of medieval Russian life, exploring important texts from Kievan and Muscovite Rus’ that reveal a vibrant and thriving literary and cultural community.  These texts include notable examples of historical writing, military tales, saints’ lives, homilies, adventure tales, biographies, polemical treatises, and miracle tales.  We will also devote time to the study of medieval Russian art and iconography, examining in particular regional differences in icon painting and other artistic production. In addition, we will watch several well-known Russian films and operas based on medieval historical subjects, such as Alexander Nevsky, Andrei Rublev, Ivan the Terrible, and Boris Godunov, and discuss how composers and directors re-imagined medieval Russian culture for their own times.  All class discussion and reading will be in English.

Texts:

  1. S. Zenkovsky, Medieval Russia’s Epics, Chronicles and Tales
  2. D. Likhachev, A History of Russian Literature, 11th-17th Centuries
  3. On Blackboard: selections from Kievan Caves Paterikon, Domostroi, Kurbsky-Grozny correspondence, I. Timofeev’s Chronicle; J. Meyendorff, Byzantium and the Rise of Russia; R. Crummey, The Formation of Muscovy, 1304-1613; J. Billington, The Icon and the Axe.

Films to be screened:

  1. Alexander Nevsky (1938)
  2. Andrei Rublev (1966)
  3. Ivan the Terrible (1944)
  4. 1612 (2007)

Operas:

  1. Prince Igor (Borodin)
  2. Boris Godunov (Mussorgsky)
  3. Life for the Tsar (Ivan Susanin) (Glinka)

Requirements and Grading:

  1. Short Essay (5pp)                      20%
  2. Longer essay (10-12 pp)            30%
  3. Final examination                       30%
  4. Active enthusiastic participation 20%

Prerequisites

Upper Division Standing.

C L 386 • Madness And Madmen In Rus Lit

33765 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm CAL 22
(also listed as REE 385 )
show description

The problem of madness and insanity has preoccupied Russian writers and thinkers from the earliest days of Russia’s troubled history. In this course we will cover a broad range of works from medieval saints’ lives to post-modernist fiction to investigate the evolution of madness in Russian culture. The heroes of the novels and short stories we will explore range from holy fools to everyday madmen to chronically troubled spirits. The reading will include Pushkin’s Queen of Spades and Bronze Horseman; Gogol’s Overcoat and The Diary of a Madman, Dostoevsky’s The Double and Notes from the Underground, Leskov’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata, Chekhov’s The Black Monk and Ward No 6, Garshin’s, Red Flower, Nabokov’s Despair, Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, Erofeev’s Life with an Idiot and Pelevin’s Buddha’s Little Finger. We will also examine manifestations of fictional insanity in film, opera, and the visual arts. Readings and discussion in English. For graduate credit, students are expected to read some works in Russian, discuss additional secondary sources, and write the short response papers in Russian.  They will also attend a weekly graduate-only discussion section.

Prerequisites:  None

Readings: A. Pushkin’s Queen of Spades and Bronze Horseman; N. Gogol’s Overcoat and The Diary of a Madman, F. Dostoevsky’s The Double and Notes from the Underground, N. Leskov’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, L. Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata, A. Chekhov’s The Black Monk and Ward No 6, V. Garshin’s, Red Flower, V. Nabokov’s Despair, M. Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, V. Erofeev’s Life with an Idiot and V. Pelevin’s Buddha’s Little Finger.

Grading:

Short Response Papers (2-3 pp.) in Russian: 30%

Midterm Paper: 20%

Final Paper: 20%

Class Presentation: 20%

Class Attendance and Participation: 10%

C L 323 • War & Peace In Russian Lit/Cul

33773 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm PAR 206
(also listed as REE 325, REE 385, RUS 356, RUS 391 )
show description

Course Description

 This exciting course explores Russian literary and cinematic responses to the ravages of war and revolution, heroic and bloody conflicts that repeatedly devastated the country throughout its long and tumultuous history. We will read a variety of texts dealing with the Napoleonic invasion, the Caucasus campaign, the Revolution of 1917, the Civil War, World War II, the Cold War, the Afghan War, and the present-day conflict in Chechnya, and explore how individual writers portrayed the calamity of war and its devastating effect on people’s lives, while expressing hope for ever-elusive peace and universal brotherhood. All readings and discussion will be English. All films will be screened with English subtitles.

 

Texts:

  1. L. Tolstoy, Hadji Murad
  2. L. Tolstoy, War and Peace
  3. M. Bulgakov, White Guard
  4. I. Babel, Red Cavalry
  5. V. Grossman, Life and Fate
  6. V. Pelevin, Omon Ra
  7. Selections from journalistic accounts of A. Borovik and A. Politkovskaya on wars in Chechnya and Afghanistan

 

Requirements and Grading


-       Keeping up with the readings and participation in class discussion       10% 

-       3-4 response papers to readings (2 pages), topics TBA                     30% 

-       Midterm paper (Tolstoy) (6-8 pages)                                           30% 

-       Final Paper (8-10 pages)                                                          30% 

 

C L 323 • Apocalypse In Russian Lit/Cul

33565 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm PAR 201
(also listed as REE 325, REE 385, RUS 330, RUS 391 )
show description

The Russians have been famously termed “wanderers in search of God’s truth”. In much of their literature there is a discernable thirst for another life, another world, a clear displeasure at what is. There is an eschatological directedness, an expectation that there will be an end to all that is finite, that a final truth will ultimately be revealed, that in the future an extraordinary event will take place. This new course will explore and analyze apocalyptic consciousness in Russian literature and culture from the Middle Ages to the present. Emphasis will be on such themes as the expectation of the end of the world, identification of the Antichrist, messianic prophecy and visions of an afterlife. Readings will include works of Gogol, Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Bely, Merezhkovsky, Soloviev, Bulgakov, Makanin, and Tolstaya.

The graduate component of this class will involve an additional moderate amount of reading in Russian (for Slavic graduate students) or other apocalyptic traditions (for Comparative Literature graduate students).  Slavic graduate students will also be expected to write their response papers in Russian.  All graduate students will make brief presentations in class on an agreed upon topic of their choice depending on their individual interests.

Reading List: (These works are all available in the bookstore, on Blackboard or on Google Books)

D. Merezhkovsky, Peter and Alexei

A. Pushkin, Bronze Horseman

F. Dostoevsky, Demons

N. Gogol, Dead Souls

M. Bulgakov, Master and Margarita

V. Soloviev, Third Conversation and Short Story on the Antichrist

A. Bely, Petersburg

M. Bulgakov, Master and Margarita

T. Tolstaya, Slynx

V. Makanin, Escape Hatch

C L 323 • The Russian Novel

33620 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm PAR 201
(also listed as CTI 345, E 322, REE 325, RUS 356 )
show description

Description: 

The Russian novel represents one of Russia’s greatest contributions to world culture.  This course surveys classic authors as well as experimental works from the 19th through the 21st centuries.  Students in the course will deepen their understanding of the cultural context for Russian writers from Turgenev, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy through Pelevin and Sorokin. They will gain familiarity with literary movements and genres including romanticism, realism, modernism, and the postmodern as they developed in Russia.  We will highlight issues including the relationship of Russia to the West, the question of national identity, and the complex relationship of literature to politics.

Readings:

M. Lermontov, A Hero of Our Time

I. Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

F. Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

L. Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

M. Bulgakov, Master and Margarita

A. Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

V. Pelevin, Yellow Train

T. Tolstaya, The Slynx

V. Sorokin, Ice

Grading:

 1. Attendance and Class Participation 10%

2. Response Papers 30%

3. Midterm Paper 30%

4. Final Paper 30%

C L 323 • The Icon And The Sword

32938 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm GAR 3.116
(also listed as MDV 392M, REE 325, REE 385, RUS 330 )
show description

Course Description

This course serves as an introduction to the exciting and exotic literature and culture of the medieval and early modern Russia.  Over the course of the semester, we will learn about all aspects of medieval Russian life, exploring important literary texts from Kievan and Muscovite Rus’ that reveal a vibrant and thriving literary and cultural community.  These texts include notable examples of historical writing, military tales, saints’ lives, homilies, adventure tales, biographies, polemical treatises, and miracle tales.  We will also devote time to the study of art and iconography, examining in particular regional differences in icon painting and other artistic production. In addition, we will watch several well-known Russian films and operas based on medieval historical subjects, such as Alexander Nevsky, Andrei Rublev, Ivan the Terrible, and Boris Godunov, and discuss how librettists, composers, directors, and screenwriters re-imagined medieval Russian culture in their own times.  All readings and discussion will be in English.

 

Prerequisites

Upper Division Standing.

 

Undergraduate Courses

Fall 2010 REE 301/SLA 301 "Introduction to Russian, E. European, and Eurasian"

Course Description

Introduction to the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe through each of the major disciplines represented in the program: language, literature, anthropology, geography, history, government, sociology, and economics.  Core course required for a degree in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies. Meets with SLA 301 and GRG 309. May not be used to fulfill the foreign language requirement for any Bachelor’s degree. Course number may be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

Fall 2010 REE 330/REE 325/CL 323/REE 385/RUS 391 "The Icon and the Sword: An Introduction to Old Russian Literature and Culture"

Course Description

This course serves as an introduction to the exciting and exotic literature and culture of the medieval and early modern Russia.  Over the course of the semester, we will learn about all aspects of medieval Russian life, exploring important literary texts fro Kievan and Muscovite Rus’ that reveal a vibrant and thriving literary and cultural community.  These texts include notable examples of historical writing, military tales, saints’ lives, homilies, adventure tales, biographies, polemical treatises, and miracle tales.  We will also devote time to the study of art and iconography, examining in particular regional differences in icon painting and other artistic production. In addition, we will watch several well-known Russian films and oeras based on medieval historical subjects, such as Alexander Nevsky, Andrei Rublev, Ivan the Terrible, and Boris Godunov, and discuss how librettists, composers, directors, and screenwriters re-imagined medieval Russian culture in their own times.  All readings and discussion will be in English.

Fall 2011 RUS 356/REE 325/E322/CTI345 "The Russian Novel"

The Russian novel represents Russia’s most fundamental contribution to world culture.  This course surveys classic authors and experimental works from the 19th and 20th centuries.  Students in the course will deepen their understanding of the context for writers, including Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. They will gain familiarity with literary movements and genres including romanticism, realism, modernism, and the postmodern as they developed in Russia.  We will highlight issues including the relationship of Russia to the West, national identity, and the complex relationship of literature to politics.

Reading List: (These novels are all available in the bookstore or on Blackboard)

M. Lermontov, A Hero of Our Time

I. Turgenev, Fathers and Son

F. Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

L. Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

M. Bulgakov, Master and Margarita

A. Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

V. Grossman, Everything Flows

V. Sorokin, Day of the Oprichnik

V. Pelevin, Yellow Arrow

Fall 2011 RUS 330/REE 325/REE 385/CL 323/CL 382 "The Apocalypse in Russian Literature and Culture"

The Russians have been famously termed “wanderers in search of God’s truth”. In much of their literature there is a discernable thirst for another life, another world, a clear displeasure at what is. There is an eschatological directedness, an expectation that there will be an end to all that is finite, that a final truth will ultimately be revealed, that in the future an extraordinary event will take place. This new course will explore and analyze apocalyptic consciousness in Russian literature and culture from the Middle Ages to the present. Emphasis will be on such themes as the expectation of the end of the world, identification of the Antichrist, messianic prophecy and visions of an afterlife. Readings will include works of Gogol, Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Bely, Merezhkovsky, Soloviev, Bulgakov, Makanin, and Tolstaya.

The graduate component of this class will involve an additional moderate amount of reading in Russian (for Slavic graduate students) or other apocalyptic traditions (for Comparative Literature graduate students).  Slavic graduate students will also be expected to write their response papers in Russian.  All graduate students will make brief presentations in class on an agreed upon topic of their choice depending on their individual interests.

 

Reading List: (These works are all available in the bookstore, on Blackboard or on Google Books)

D. Merezhkovsky, Peter and Alexei

A. Pushkin, Bronze Horseman

F. Dostoevsky, Demons

N. Gogol, Dead Souls

M. Bulgakov, Master and Margarita

V. Soloviev, Third Conversation and Short Story on the Antichrist

A. Bely, Petersburg

M. Bulgakov, Master and Margarita

T. Tolstaya, Slynx

V. Makanin, Escape Hatch

Graduate Courses

Fall 2010 REE 330/REE 325/CL 323/REE 385/RUS 391 "The Icon and the Sword: An Introduction to Old Russian Literature and Culture"

Course Description

This course serves as an introduction to the exciting and exotic literature and culture of the medieval and early modern Russia.  Over the course of the semester, we will learn about all aspects of medieval Russian life, exploring important literary texts fro Kievan and Muscovite Rus’ that reveal a vibrant and thriving literary and cultural community.  These texts include notable examples of historical writing, military tales, saints’ lives, homilies, adventure tales, biographies, polemical treatises, and miracle tales.  We will also devote time to the study of art and iconography, examining in particular regional differences in icon painting and other artistic production. In addition, we will watch several well-known Russian films and oeras based on medieval historical subjects, such as Alexander Nevsky, Andrei Rublev, Ivan the Terrible, and Boris Godunov, and discuss how librettists, composers, directors, and screenwriters re-imagined medieval Russian culture in their own times.  All readings and discussion will be in English.

Fall 2011 RUS 330/REE 325/REE 385/CL 323/CL 382 "The Apocalypse in Russian Literature and Culture"

The Russians have been famously termed “wanderers in search of God’s truth”. In much of their literature there is a discernable thirst for another life, another world, a clear displeasure at what is. There is an eschatological directedness, an expectation that there will be an end to all that is finite, that a final truth will ultimately be revealed, that in the future an extraordinary event will take place. This new course will explore and analyze apocalyptic consciousness in Russian literature and culture from the Middle Ages to the present. Emphasis will be on such themes as the expectation of the end of the world, identification of the Antichrist, messianic prophecy and visions of an afterlife. Readings will include works of Gogol, Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Bely, Merezhkovsky, Soloviev, Bulgakov, Makanin, and Tolstaya.

The graduate component of this class will involve an additional moderate amount of reading in Russian (for Slavic graduate students) or other apocalyptic traditions (for Comparative Literature graduate students).  Slavic graduate students will also be expected to write their response papers in Russian.  All graduate students will make brief presentations in class on an agreed upon topic of their choice depending on their individual interests.

Reading List: (These works are all available in the bookstore, on Blackboard or on Google Books)

D. Merezhkovsky, Peter and Alexei

A. Pushkin, Bronze Horseman

F. Dostoevsky, Demons

N. Gogol, Dead Souls

M. Bulgakov, Master and Margarita

V. Soloviev, Third Conversation and Short Story on the Antichrist

A. Bely, Petersburg

M. Bulgakov, Master and Margarita

T. Tolstaya, Slynx

V. Makanin, Escape Hatch

bottom border