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Unit information: Understanding Russia: Critical Approaches in 2016/17

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Unit name Understanding Russia: Critical Approaches
Unit code RUSS10039
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Chitnis
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of Russian
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will introduce students to the conceptual frameworks through which we understand Russia. Teaching will be divided into four thematic blocks, which will change according to staff involvement, but will typically include such themes as power, space, time, language, heroism etc. These themes will allow students to explore the continuities and changes in Russia’s cultural and social history. The topic of ‘time’, for example, will introduce students to the periodisation of Russian history, encourage them to reflect on shifting attitudes to time at various points and in various cultural spheres (e.g. the apocalyptic visions of the late 19th century, or the utopian dreams of the Soviet period), and question whether anything really changes in Russian history.

The unit will use a variety of materials, including literature, film, historical documents and media texts, and draw on secondary literature to explore and critique common theoretical and critical approaches to Russia.

The unit will also develop students’ skills in analysis and composition through a series of summative assessments.

Intended Learning Outcomes

a) Students will demonstrate a sound conceptual framework to understand the history, thought and culture of Russia.

b) They will learn to assess and challenge the narrative frameworks that shape how Russia has been understood in a variety of contexts.

c) They will develop their ability to engage with, interpret and contrast texts, film, music and images from different periods and genres.

d) They will improve their critical thinking skills and develop the ability to analyse and argue.

Teaching Information

1 x weekly lecture

1 x weekly Seminar

Assessment Information

500 word abstract (10%), testing ILOs a-d.

1,000 word critical comparison of two scholarly works (20%), testing ILOs a-d.

1,000 word literary analysis (20%), testing ILOs a-d.

1,500 word essay (50%), testing ILOs a-d.

Two formative online quizzes will be set at the end of each teaching block to encourage students to retain factual knowledge about Russia’s historical and cultural past.

Reading and References

  • Hingley, Ronald, Russian Writers and Society, 1917-1978, London, New York, 1979.
  • Hosking, Geoffrey, Russia and the Russians: A History, Cambridge, MA, 2001.
  • Kochan, Lionel and Richard Abraham, The Making of Modern Russia, London, 1983.
  • Marsh, Rosalind, History and Literature in Contemporary Russia, London, 1995
  • Moser, Charles A., ed., The Cambridge History of Russian Literature, revised ed.,Cambridge, 1992.