Slavic 242: Eighteenth-Century Russian Literature

Instructor: Lyubov Golburt

The course introduces students to key literary figures and genres of the Russian eighteenth century. Following a roughly chronological order and focusing on the writings of Prokopovich, Kantemir, Trediakovskii, Lomonosov, Sumarokov, Fonvizin, Catherine the Great, Derzhavin, Radishchev, and Karamzin, we will also consider key issues in Russian early modern culture: Europeanization, its innovations and discontents; the meanings and consequences of modernity; the rise of literature and its complex interactions with the state; the problems associated with foreign influence, cultural reception, transmission, and transformation, as well as ideas of cultural rupture and continuity. While the Russian eighteenth century is often perceived by contemporary readers and students as outdated or prohibitively distant, our task will also be to think about its persistent legacies, and some of our readings will come from later periods and reflect on the eighteenth century’s Nachleben.