Fall 2009

Strange Russian Writers


Boris Wolfson (Section 01)


We will read tales of rebels, deviants, dissidents, loners and losers in some of the weirdest fictions in Russian literature. The writers, most of whom imagine themselves to be every bit as bizarre as their heroes, will include Odoevsky, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Saltykov, Sukhovo-Kobylin, Olesha, Babel, Kharms, Platonov, Sinyavsky, Petrushevskaya, Sorokin and Pelevin. Our goal will be less to construct a canon of strangeness than to consider closely how estranged women, men, animals, and objects become the center of narrative attention. The "strangeness" of these texts--their unorthodox uses of character, motivation, plot, and genre--will help attune us to the less visible strategies of more familiar kinds of writing.  Frequent writing assignments will provoke alert observation of how literary works are constructed and what effects they produce.

Fall semester.  Professor Wolfson.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Spring 2022