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

Nadya Clayton


Nadya Clayton


  • Phone: (512) 471-3607
  • Office: BUR 402
  • Office Hours: Spring 2014: M/W 12-­1:30pm, and by appointment
  • Campus Mail Code: F3600

REE F325 • Russian Myths And Folk Tales

87735 • Summer 2013
Meets MTWTHF 1000am-1130am BUR 112
(also listed as ANT F325L, RUS F330 )
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Course description:

Russian culture is steeped in a very rich folklore tradition the enduring elements of which can be found in everyday life, religion, popular and high art, music and literature. Russian myths reflect the spiritual journey of the people which began with the worship of ancient pagan gods and matured with the dawn of the Christian age. Despite manifold cultural and religious changes, traces of their mystical beliefs have survived: in the great epics of Russian ancient heroes; in their belief in the earth’s healing power; and in the magical stories which fill the forbidding landscape with fantastical characters. Such myths are central to understanding how, since the dawn of time, Russian people have sought to explain birth, death, creation, love and other mysteries of life. What is folklore and how is it related to modern culture and experience? What connection do fairytales and myths have to evolving ideas of Russian culture and nationality? What is the relationship between traditional folklore and literature? This class will explore these ideas through an examination of the Russian folktale, its roots in ancient, pre-Christian Slavic religious tradition, its connections with other forms of folklore such as myth and legend, and its transformation in modern Russian literature. The continuing influence of folklore will be explored through various aspects of Russian culture, including literature, music, ballet, film and popular culture. In addition to Russian fairytales, we will be reading works of Russian literature (Pushkin, Gogol', Ostrovskii, Gaidar, Tatiana Tolstaya, Nina Sadur) that make use of folkloric themes and motifs, and we will look at the study of folklore as a discipline.

Course work:

1. Active and informed participation in discussion                                                            20%

2. One twenty-minute oral presentation about a topic or critical essay on the syllabus         30%

3. A short written structural and stylistic analyses of a folktale on the syllabus                    20%

4. A final research paper (12-15 pages)                                                                         30%

Course materials:

Ivanits, Linda. Russian Folk Belief. NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1989.

Afanas’ev, Aleksandr. Russian Fairy Tales. NY: Pantheon, 1973.

Warner, E. A. Heroes, Monsters and Other Worlds from Russian Mythology. Eurobooks, 1985.

Sokolov, Yu. M. Russian Folklore. Hatboro, USA, 1960.

Barker, Adele Marie. The Mother Syndrome in the Russian Folk Imagination. Slavica, 1986.

Ralston, W. The Songs of the Russian People. London, 1872.

Dolukhanov, P. The Early Slavs. Longman: London, 1996.

Perkowski, J. L. The Darkling: a Treatise on Slavic Vampirism. Slavica, 1976.

Bettelheim, Bruno. The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. NY: Vintage Books, 1977.

Bottigheimer, Ruth. Fairy Tales and Society: Illusion, Allusion and Paradigm. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986.

Bottigheimer, Ruth. Grimms’ Bad Girls and Bold Boys: The Moral and Social Vision of the Tales. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987.

REE 325 • Leo Tolstoy's Early Works

44465 • Fall 2011
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am PAR 203
(also listed as C L 323, CTI 345, RUS 360 )
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Course description:

This course offers a survey of Tolstoy’s most emblematic early works that paved the way to recognition for the young writer on the Russian literary scene. The works that we will examine serve as perfect landmarks on the path of the young Tolstoy’s evolution as a writer and provide an invaluable insight into the birth and formation of his literary genius. It would be impossible to fully understand and appreciate Tolstoy’s later literary masterworks without familiarizing oneself with the literary, aesthetic, philosophical and historical influences and ideas that accompanied and shaped Tolstoy’s first steps as a professional writer.

Starting with his first published novel Childhood, highly acclaimed and recognized immediately after its appearance in 1852, we will look into the persistent autobiographical tendency of Tolstoy’s literary creations, his superb power of observation and portrayal of human psychic life and psychological analysis, his captivating descriptive art that resided in the love for minute details and sweeping generalizations. His military sketches will transport us to the Caucasus where a young officer Leo Tolstoy is pondering the nature of human courage and vanity and is struggling in his writing with the romantic stereotypes of war. We will trace the immergence of the two hallmarks of Tolstoy’s descriptive style – the so-called bestrangement device and interior monologue or “dialectic of the soul,” and will experience all manifestations of human psyche subjected to the horrors of war through the eyes of the best war journalist – Leo Tolstoy.

The course will also explore Tolstoy’s evolution as a writer in the context of his relationship to the aesthetic ideas of the 1850’s and his deeply personal involvement in the heated debate over the purpose of art that sharply divided the Russian literary scene of that time. Tolstoy’s two lesser known works Notes from Lucerne and “Albert” will help us to discover the primary source and nature of Tolstoy’s aesthetic rhetoric and to experience his deep personal passion for music.

And finally, we will follow Tolstoy into the classroom of his peasant school to answer his seemingly extravagant question: “Should we teach the peasant children to write, or should they teach us?” Through reading some of Tolstoy’s stimulating pedagogical essays which become a new form of artistic creation under the pen of the writer, we will see how Tolstoy’s original, humane and practical vision of education has anticipated some of the most leading principles of our contemporary educational theory and commends a great deal to a modern educator.

Course work:

1. Active and informed participation in discussion                                                                      20%

2. One twenty-minute oral presentation about a topic or critical essay on the syllabus                  30%

3. A short written textual analysis                                                                                            20%

4. A final research paper (12-15 pages)                                                                                    30%

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