Looking for a course for Spring 2016? Check out the attached list for the language and content based courses being offered next quarter in East European and Russian/Eurasian area at the University of Chicago.
Spring 2016 Courses in
East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies
Shamans and Epic Poets of Central Asia
ANTH 25906, NEHC 20766/30766, EEUR 20766/30766
W 12:00 - 3:00
Central Asia has been inhabited for millennia by diverse peoples, including those whose ways of life have been described as “nomadic”, and whose religious or spiritual traditions have been dubbed “shamanistic”. In this course, we explore the area broadly known as “Central Asia”, paying particular attention to its populations which descend from nomadic” and/or “shamanist” peoples. We examine the relationships between music and oral epic, performed by the “bard”, and “shamanic ritual”, performed by the “shaman”. We can examine the relationships between “shamanist religion” and “book religions”, which have helped shape some of the syncretic religious traditions in Central Asia. We will also take a comparative look at “shamanism” on a global scale. Keywords: “shamanism”, “animism”, “oral tradition”, “epic tradition”, Turkic peoples, Mongols, Siberian peoples, “religious syncretism”, “verbal and musical healing”.
Narratives of Suspense
REES 2/33137; CMLT 22100; HUMA 2690; CMST 2/35102; ENGL 2/46901
This course examines the nature and creation of suspense in literature and film as an introduction to narrative theory. We will question how and why stories are created, as well as what motivates us to continue to reading, watching, and listening to stories. We will explore how particular genres (such as detective stories and thrillers) and the mediums of literature and film influence our understanding of suspense and narrative more broadly. Close readings of primary sources will be supplemented with critical and theoretical readings. Literary readings will include work by John Buchan, Arthur Conan Doyle, Feodor Dostoevsky, Graham Greene, Bohumil Hrabal, and J.M. Coetzee. We will also explore Alfred Hitchcock’s take on 39 Steps and the Czech New Wave manifesto film, Pearls of the Deep. With theoretical readings by: Roland Barthes, Viktor Shklovsky, Erich Auerbach, Paul Ricoeur, and others.
The Shadows of Living Things: the Writings of Mikhail Bulgakov
Open these books and step into a world of fanciful possibilities, magic, and creatures produced by scientific experiments; contemplate the nature of evil and human responsibility in the face of dehumanizing fear, while at the same time rolling with laughter at Bulgakov’s irresistible seduction into the comedic. Laughter, as shadow and light, as subversive weapon but also as power’s whip, the capacity to be comedic, grounds human relation to both good and evil. Master and Margarita, Diaboliada, Fatal Eggs, Heart of A Dog, Ivan Vasilevich.
Imaginary Worlds: The Fantastic and Magic Realism in Russia and Southeastern Europe
REES 2/39018; CMLT 27701/37701; RUSS 27300/37300
In this course, we will ask what constitutes the fantastic and magic realism as literary genres while reading some of the most interesting writings to have come out of Russia and Southeastern Europe. While considering the stylistic and narrative specificities of this narrative mode, we also think about its political functions —from subversive to escapist, to supportive of a nationalist imaginary—in different contexts and at different historic moments in the two regions.
Cold War Cinema
CMST 24506 / REES 24402 / HIST 29317
Tu/Th 9:00-10:20 AM; Screening: Tuesdays 3:30-6:30
Instructor: Zdenko Mandušić
Taking a comparative approach to films made in the United States and the Soviet Union during the period of the Cold War, this course will survey how the long-running confrontation of two global superpowers mobilized a range of styles, genres, and film technology in the decades-long battle of claims and images. Beginning with the pre-history of the conflict and extending to its perceived conclusion in the late 1980s, we will consider cinema’s role in presenting, shaping, and questioning archetypal images and narratives. We will examine what aspects of cinema lend themselves to political agitation, by considering how American and Soviet bureaucrats and filmmakers made use of cinematographic elements to assert ideological claims and to reinforce them through appeals to the senses. Along with the influence of politics on film production and aesthetics, we will consider cinematic reflections of Cold War events such as the U.S.-Soviet Cultural Exchange Agreement of 1958 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. As we chart the history of Cold War film styles and their strategies, we will consider both explicitly propagandistic films as well as those that stray from the conflict’s headline issues, but have significant bearing on it.
Russian from Modernism to Postmodernism
Instructor: Zachary King
Given the importance of the written word in Russian culture, it is no surprise that writers were full-blooded participants in Russia's tumultuous recent history, which has lurched from war to war, and from revolution to revolution. The change of political regimes has only been outpaced by the change of aesthetic regimes, from realism to symbolism, and then from socialist realism to post-modernism. We sample the major writers, texts, and literary doctrines, paying close attention to the way they responded and contributed to historical events. This course counts as the third part of the survey of Russian literature. Texts in English.
The Holocaust Object
REES 27019/37019, JWSC 29500, ANTH 23910/35035, HIST 2341/33413
What is the role of ordinary everyday things in the extraordinary time of war and genocide? What was their power in the brutalized and debased existence of Holocaust victims? In this multidisciplinary course, we explore and reconstruct the often overlooked, yet meaningful connections between humans and everyday things during and after WWII. Arguing for their interdependence, we read narratives which foreground things and represent various Holocaust artifacts and material remnants as they were a source of support for their owners/ users while they were also simultaneously used, looted, amassed and, therefore, controlled. In the next stages of our virtual tour through the memorial sites and museums located in former ghettos and extermination and concentration camps, we ask how the post-Holocaust matter and things deliver their ‘testimonies’ and serve as tools of remembrance through museum displays and use of the Web. We study the ways in which the post-Holocaust material world--ranging from infrastructure to detritus--has been subjected to two, often conflicting, tasks of representation and preservation, which we view through a prism of authenticity. In order to study representational strategies, we engage a textual and visual reading of museum narrations and fiction writings; to tackle with demands of preservation we apply a neo-materialist approach to analyze the diminishing post-Holocaust material world. By engaging these discourses the course tracks the impact of ever evolving memory politics and ideologies on the Holocaust remnants understood here as both the (post)human and material. The course will also equip students with salient critical tools for future research in the Holocaust studies and thing theory, as well as with some texts constituting the Holocaust literary canon. No knowledge of Polish or German is required.
Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent: (In)Action, Surveillance, Terrorism
This course centers on a close reading of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale (1907). Contemporary critics often consider this novel to be the archetypal fictional work about terrorism, as it is based on the bomb attack that occurred on the Royal Observatory in Greenwich in 1888. The Secret Agent demonstrates, however, much more than its prophetic significance rediscovered after 9/11. Therefore, the course seeks how the novel’s relevance stems in equal measure from Conrad’s interest in a wider political process and his distrust of state power; in particular, the course explores how these forces determine the individual caught in a confining situation. We read The Secret Agent as a political novel, which in its struggle for solutions defies chaos as well as an imposition of a single ideology or one authorial point of view. The novel’s ambiguities and political antinomies reveal its polyphonic structure allowing for interdisciplinary readings (Marxist, contextual, proto-existentialist, post-Lacanian) that also present an opportunity to critically overview the established approaches to main Conradian themes; for example, in order to destabilize the standard view of the writer as a conservative anti-revolutionary, we consider some biographical connections, such as his family members’ radical (“Red”) social agenda of the abolishment of serfdom. In analyzing the formation of the narrative’s ideology we analyze Conrad’s historical pessimism that demonstrates with sustained irony how capitalism breeds social injustice that, in turn, breeds anarchism. The class also focuses on just how the novel exposes duplicity in staging surveillance, terrorism, as well as adjacent forms of violence or sacrifice. The critical texts include several older but still influential readings (Jameson, Eagleton) of the novel’s political and social dimension, as well as the most recent pronouncements of its complexity. All texts are in English.
(Re)Branding the Balkan City: Contemporary Belgrade, Sarajevo, Zagreb, also Advanced BCS
BCSN 31303, 21300; REES 31303, 21300
The course will use an urban studies lens to explore the complex history, infrastructure, and transformations of these three cities, now capitals of Serbia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, and Croatia. Drawing on anthropological theory and ethnography of the city, we will consider processes of urban destruction and renewal, practices of branding spaces and identities, urban life as praxis, art and design movements, architectural histories and styles, metropolitan citizenship, and the broader politics of space. The course is complemented by cultural and historical media, guest speakers, and virtual tours. Classes are held in English. No knowledge of BCS is required. However, this module can fulfill a language requirement or simply further the study of BCS with additional weekly sections, materials, discussions, and presentations in the target language.
Yiddish Literature Between the World Wars
This course provides an introduction to the major authors, themes, and literary styles of Yiddish prose between the two World Wars. In the wake of WWI—or “The Catastrophe” as it was known in Yiddish—writers tried to make sense of the new cultural, linguistic and political landscapes with which they were met. The result is a body of texts in which discharged soldiers, urban migrants, struggling poets, committed communists and dissolving rabbinical dynasties compete for power and attention. We will examine these issues in texts produced in the shifting centers of Yiddish modernism: Moscow, Berlin, Warsaw and New York. We begin with Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman, published as the First World War was coming to an end and we conclude with a novel by Yankev Glatshteyn, published only months after the German invasion of Poland. This discussion-based course will presume no previous knowledge of Yiddish literature or language. Taught in English. Yiddish readers will meet for an additional weekly session.
Spring 2016 Language Courses
Elementary Modern Armenian-3
TR 12:00-1:20pm W 12:30-1:20pm
The Elementary Modern Armenian course is a 3-quarter sequence class. We start in the Fall and proceed through Spring for the Elementary level. The course utilizes advanced computer technology enabling the students to master a core vocabulary, the unique alphabet and basic grammatical structures in a fun setting, to achieve a reasonable level of proficiency in Armenian. A language competency exam is offered at the end of spring quarter for those taking this course as college language requirement. A considerable amount of historical-political and social-cultural issues about Armenia and Armenians are built into the course for students who have intention to conduct research in Armenian Studies or related fields or to pursue work in Armenia. This is a unique opportunity to study one of the oldest Indo-European languages in an academic setting and partake in the rare linguistic and cultural experience that the Armenian class has to offer. The classes are in small groups placing the students in a very advantageous environment that accelerates their learning and language acquisition.
Intermediate Modern Armenian-3
This three-quarter sequence enables the students to reach an Intermediate level of proficiency in the Armenian language. The course covers a rich vocabulary and complex grammatical structures in modern formal and colloquial Armenian. Reading assignments include some original Armenian literature and excerpts from mass media. A considerable amount of historical-political and social-cultural issues about Armenia are skillfully built into the course for students who have intention to conduct research in Armenian Studies or related fields or to pursue work in Armenia.
Advanced Modern Armenian-3
This three-quarter sequence enables the students to reach a much higher level of proficiency in the Armenian language. Reading assignments include a large selection of original Armenian literature and excerpts from mass media. Students are exposed to various dialects of Armenian, including Western Armenian and local dialects, as well as colloquialisms. Students are encouraged to engage in discussions and debates led in Armenian, and write essays on the materials read for class.
In this three-quarter sequence introductory course in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS) languages and cultures, students are encouraged to concentrate on the language of their interest and choice. The major objective is to build a solid foundation in the grammatical patterns of written and spoken BCS, while introducing both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. This is achieved through a communicative situation-based approach, textbook dialogues, reinforcement by the instructor, screenings of film shorts, TV announcements, documentaries, commercials, and the like. The course includes a sociolinguistic component, an essential part of understanding the similarities and differences between the languages. Mandatory drill sessions are held twice per week, offering students ample opportunity to review and practice materials presented in class.
The Second-Year course in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian languages and cultures is a continuation of First-Year BCS, therefore assumes one year of formal study of the target language(s) or equivalent coursework elsewhere. The course is focused on spoken and written modern BCS, emphasizing communicative practice in authentic cultural contexts. The language(s) are introduced through a series of dialogues gathered from a variety of textbooks published in Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia, as well as newspaper articles, short biographies, poems, and song lyrics in both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. A vast archive of audiovisual materials, representing both high and popular culture, constitute an integral part of every unit. Simultaneously, aural comprehension, speaking, grammar, and vocabulary are reinforced and further developed throughout the year. Mandatory drill sessions are held twice a week, offering students ample opportunity to review and practice materials presented in class.
First Year Czech
CZEC / 10103
Tu/Th 12:00-1:20; W 10:30-11:20
Kazak, or Kazakh, is a Central Turkic language spoken natively by 12 million people in the Kazakh Republic, as well as by significant populations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the PRC, in Mongolia, in Uzbekistan, Turkey, Russia, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. One of the Turkic languages in which Turkic heroic epics have been sung for centuries, Kazakh preserves many of the features of the ancient Turkic language of Central Asia. A language wherein eloquence, accuracy and precision are very highly prized, Kazakh is known for its lyrical beauty and its extremely rich oral tradition. Traditional Kazakh culture combines elements of the pre-Islamic Turkic way of life, as well as elements of Islam (specifically Sufism), and themes common to Eurasian nomads from the Urals to the Altai mountains and beyond. While the nomadic horse-riding ancestors of the Kazakhs formed the military and political backbone of several successive Turkic states in Central Asia, modern Kazakhstan is a developed, multi-ethnic, resource-rich (especially oil and gas) and technologically-oriented country, with a literacy rate approaching 100%.
Kazakhstan boasts a blossoming artistic scene, including a refined film industry, a sophisticated literary scene, and well-developed theatre. The Kazakhs visibly value literature and the arts, and almost every Kazakh can recite poetry or play the dombra, the national instrument. During Soviet and post-Soviet times, while the television channels of some other Soviet republics broadcast hour after hour of reports on industrial and agricultural production, Kazakh TV carried on with documentaries about famous literary and artistic figures. The traditional Kazakh dwelling, known as yurt in English and �y in Kazakh, is almost entirely made by women. Made of felt, leather, and wood, it can be set up and broken down in under 45 minutes, is highly portable, and can provide comfortable living for a family year-round, despite the wide temperature extremes that characterize the climate of Central Eurasia. Although most Kazakhs today are apartment dwellers, many maintain yurts for use on important occasions.
The language is taught at the Elementary and Intermediate levels at the University of Chicago, while Advanced Kazakh is available on demand. A knowledge of Kazakh greatly facilitates the acquisition of other related Turkic languages, such as Tatar, Bashkir, Kyrgyz (Kirghiz), or Uzbek. The class is arranged, though in all likelihood it will take place late morning to early afternoon on Wednesdays, once a week. The instructor, Kagan Arik, is a Turkic languages specialist, language pedagogue, and an anthropologist of Central Asia and Turkic-speaking cultures, who has been at the University of Chicago since 2000. He teaches Turkish language and literature, Uzbek, Kazakh, Old Turkic, and courses on the anthropology, folklore and ethnomusicology of Central Asia.
Elementary Polish III
Drill sessions to be arranged
This course teaches students to speak, read, and write in Polish, as well as familiarizes them with Polish culture. It employs the most up-to-date techniques of language teaching (e.g. communicative and accelerated learning, and learning based on students’ native language skills), as well as multileveled target-language exposure.
Second-Year Polish III
Meets on MWF 10:30-11:20
Drill sessions to be arranged
PQ: POLI 20100 or equivalent. This course includes instruction in grammar, writing, and translation, as well as watching selected Polish movies. Selected readings are drawn from the course textbook, and students also read Polish short stories and press articles. In addition, the independent reading of students is emphasized and reinforced by class discussions. Work is adjusted to each student's level of preparation.
Third Year Polish III
Conversation hour to be arranged.
PQ: POLI 20500/301 or equivalent. The process of learning in all three quarters of Third Year Polish will be framed by three themes, which most succinctly but aptly characterize the Polish life, culture and history: in the Fall Quarter – the noble democracy in the Commonwealth of Both Nations, in the Winter Quarter – the fight for independence, and in the Spring Quarter – the newly independent Poland. During the course of the year, students will also improve their knowledge of advanced grammar and stylistics. All work in Polish.
Polish Through Literary Readings III
PQ: POLI 401/241 or equivalent. An advanced language course emphasizing spoken and written Polish. Readings include original Polish prose and poetry as well as nonfiction. Intensive grammar review and vocabulary building. For students who have taken Third Year Polish and for native or heritage speakers who want to read Polish literature in the original. Readings and discussions in Polish.
Third-Year Russian through Culture III
RUSS 20300 (two years of Russian) or equivalent; or consent of instructor.
This course is suitable for third-year students of Russian. It covers various aspects of Russian grammar in context and emphasizes the four communicative skills (i.e., reading, writing, listening comprehension, speaking) in culturally authentic context. We will build on your existing skills to bring you to the next level of language proficiency. By the end of the academic year, you will be able to speak in paragraphs, describe, narrate, and handle a complicated transaction, as well as paraphrase and converse on a variety of familiar topics in Russian. We will view and discuss films, documentaries, and other audio-visual and printed materials during this course. Classes conducted in Russian; some aspects of grammar explained in English. Grammar drill practice is twice a week.
Advanced Russian through Media III
RUSS 20902 or equivalent; or consent of instructor.
This course is suitable for students of Russian with proficiency levels ranging from advanced low to advanced high as well as to heritage and native speakers. It covers various aspects of Russian stylistics and discourse grammar in context. It emphasizes the four communicative skills (i.e., reading, writing, listening comprehension, speaking) in culturally authentic context. In this course, we will view and discuss clips and whole films of different genres as well as other audio-visual and printed materials. This course will help you to express your thoughts in spoken and written Russian and to become more aware of stylistic differences of the Russian language. You will work on developing your ability to paraphrase, provide and support opinions, hypothesize and handle linguistically unfamiliar situations. Classes conducted in Russian. Regular consultations with instructor are part of the course.
Special Topics in Advanced Russian III
RUSS 29910/ RUSS 39910
RUSS 21502/30302 or consent of instructor.
This course is suitable for students of Russian with proficiency levels ranging from advanced high to superior to educated native speaker. It covers various aspects of advanced Russian stylistics and pragmatics in context. You will work on polishing your ability to paraphrase, provide and support opinions, hypothesize and handle linguistically unfamiliar situations. Lectures, discussions and oral presentations of different genres will be our primary format in this class. Elements of creative/academic writing and critical research skills in Russian will be important as well. Classes conducted in Russian. Regular consultations with instructor are part of the course. Class will meet once a week for 2 hours. Time and place will be arranged in the beginning of the quarter.
Elementary Turkish 3
MTWThF 9:30 - 10:20
Introduction to Old Turkic
Old Turkic is the language of the Kök Türk Empire, and of the ancient Uyghurs. This class, which has a prerequisite of one year of Turkish or another Turkic language, will feature the texts of the Orkhon Monuments from the 8th Century, in the original, with Latin alphabet transcriptions, as well as the original runiform Old Turkic letters. The class is also a good way to explore the diplomatic, political and military history of the relations between the Turkic Khaganate, Sui & Tang Dynasties China, and neighboring states. As a language study, Old Turkic is an interesting foray into the roots of Turkish and other Turkic languages, and helps to add an interesting dimension to one's background in Turkic, which can be helpful for advanced students, as well as those wishing to deepen their understanding of Ottoman, especially in its earlier forms, and of the Chagatai literary language of Central Asia. Lots of in-class reading & discussion, no exams and not much homework, but a short (5 pp) paper is expected at the end of the quarter. The class is arranged, and open to graduate and undergraduate students. Please address any inquiries to the instructor, Dr. Kagan Arik.
Elementary Yiddish III
YDDH 10300/37500; JWSC 20500; LGLN 27400.
PQ for 10300: 10200 or instructor consent. No auditors permitted.
The goal of this sequence is to develop proficiency in Yiddish reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Touchstones of global Yiddish culture are also introduced through song, film, and contemporary Yiddish websites.