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Russia's Weird Classic: Nikolai Gogol
This seminar investigates the work and life of Nikolai Gogol, the most eccentric of Russian authors, the founder of what was dubbed Fantastic (or Magic) Realism. Our investigation will be based on close reading of the works written in various stages of Gogol's literary career. This study provides a perspective on the relationship between Romanticism and Realism in Russian literature, and between the popular Ukrainian culture and "high" Russian and West European traditions in Gogol's oeuvre. In the course, we will discuss such important theoretical concepts as the relation of narrator and author in a work, the methods of depicting characters, the differences between humor and satire, the notions of “reality” and “fantastic” in Gogol’s world. The seminar also traces Gogol's influences on subsequent Russian literature (Dostoevsky in particular) and explores the impact of his work on XX century modernist literature, theatre, music, and painting (literature of the absurd, Dmitry Shostakovich, Vladimir Nabokov, Marc Chagall and Kazimir Malevich). The course is intended for the students interested in literature and literary theory.