Sophomore Seminars

Russia's Weird Classic: Nikolai Gogol


In this seminar we will investigate the life and work of Nikolai Gogol, the most eccentric of Russian authors and the founder of what is dubbed Fantastic Realism. Our investigation will be based on close readings of works written in various genres and at various stages of Gogol's career. This study provides a perspective on the relationship between romanticism and realism in Russian literature, and between popular Ukrainian culture and the "high" Russian and Western European traditions in Gogol's oeuvre. We will trace Gogol's influences on subsequent Russian literature, especially Dostoevsky, and investigate the impact of his work on 20th-century modernist literature, painting, theater, music, and art, including Vladimir Nabokov, literature of the absurd, Dmitry Shostakovich, and Marc Chagall. We will review the main critical interpretations of Gogol. The seminar is intended for students who are interested in literature and literary studies.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Lazar Fleishman

Lazar Fleishman received his Ph.D. from the University of Latvia, Riga, and was a faculty member of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for 11 years. He has been professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Stanford since 1985 and has been a visiting professor at Harvard, UC Berkeley, and Yale. Professor Fleishman is the author of numerous books and scholarly articles, and he is an international authority on Boris Pasternak.