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Russian Literature - Dr. Bruce Holl, Trinity University, San Antonio, TX

Tuesday, November 28 2017

Exam 3 Guide

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RUSS 3305/ML&L 3340 Exam 3: Gogol & Chekhov
In class, Friday, December 1, 2017
Bring a blue book, write with a pen
You will write one essay for each author. As always, cite specific details and examples from the text.


1. Argue that Gogol's play includes social criticism. Tell me which government officials, government institutions and private individuals institutions he criticizes and which crimes and vices he identifies.


2. Argue that Gogol is not primarily a social critic but rather is exposing more universal elements of the human condition. Focus on his literary techniques. You may refer to the concepts provided on the course web site.

II Chekhov

1. Argue that Chekhov is the last author of classical 19th century Russian literature, bringing to a conclusion the narratives of previous authors that we have read in the course.


2. Argue that Chekhov is the first author of the 20th century, using techniques and presenting a worldview that are a departure from classical 19th century Russian realism.


3. Argue that Chekhov is questioning a number of ideas and philosophies presented by Tolstoy.

14:26 - U.S. Central Time Zone - Dr. Bruce Holl -

Wednesday, November 15 2017

Gogol on Film

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Milwaukee Repertory Theater

Ревизор [The Government Inspector] Mosfilm 1952. 48:34

12:16 - U.S. Central Time Zone - Dr. Bruce Holl -

Friday, November 10 2017

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Gogol's Government Inspector: Mute Scene

12:28 - U.S. Central Time Zone - Dr. Bruce Holl -

Monday, November 06 2017

Gogol Concepts

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Dmitry Chizhevsky
"About 'The Overcoat'"

"The comic element in Gogol consists of a distinctive play of oppositions, or antitheses, between something meaningful and something meaningless. These antitheses alternate , so that one particular thing – a phrase, a word, an idea – which has seemed to make sense suddenly proves to be nonsense; or, vice versa, what had seemed like nonsense proves to make good sense. Among such instances of word-play is the way in which 'even' is used."

J. A. Cuddon
A Dictionary of Literary Terms

"As a literary term this word has come to denote a fairly elaborate figurative device of a fanciful kind which often incorporates metaphor, simile, hyperbole or oxymoron […] and which is intended to surprise or delight by its wit and ingenuity. The pleasure we get from many conceits is intellectual rather than sensuous."

J. A. Cuddon
A Dictionary of Literary Terms

"The surrealists attempted to express in art and literature the workings of the unconscious mind and to synthesize these workings in the conscious mind. The surrealist allows his works to develop non-logically (rather than illogically) so that the results represent the operations of the unconscious."

Simon Karlinsky,
The Sexual Labyrinth of Nikolai Gogol

"It is the thesis of the present study that an examination of Gogol's homosexual orientation within the context of his biography and writings may provide the missing key to the riddle of his personality. It should be emphasized that, as applied to Gogol in this book, the term 'homosexuality refers to his overpowering attraction to members of his own sex and aversion to physical or emotional contact with women, rather than to any physical sexuality."

Dmitry Merezhkovsky
"Gogol and the Devil"

"In Gogol's religious outlook, the Devil is a mystical essence and a real being, in which eternal evil, a denial of God, has been concentrated. Gogol the artist investigates the nature of the mystical essence in the light of laughter. Gogol the man contends with this real being using laughter as a weapon: Gogol's laughter is man's struggle with the Devil,"

Stephen Moeller-Sally
Gogol's Afterlife
Images of Gogol

Vladimir Nabokov
Nikolai Gogol

"The gaps and black holes in the texture of Gogol's style imply flaws in the texture of life itself. Something is very wrong and all men are mild lunatics engaged in pursuits that seem to them very important while an absurdly logical force keeps them at their futile jobs – this is the real 'message' of the story. In this world of utter futility, of futile humility and futile domination, the highest degree that passion, desire, creative urge can attain is a new cloak which both tailors and customers adore on their knees."

Rene Wellek
Concepts of Criticism

"Let us start with something very simple and say that realism is 'the objective representation of contemporary social reality' […] It rejects the fantastic, the fairy-tale like, the allegorical and the symbolic, the highly stylized, the purely abstract and decorative […] It implies also a rejection of the improbable, of pure chance, and of extraordinary events […] The term 'reality' is also a term of inclusion: the ugly, the revolting, the low are legitimate subjects of art. Taboo subjects such as sex and dying (love and death were always allowed) are now admitted into art."

11:46 - U.S. Central Time Zone - Dr. Bruce Holl -

Wednesday, November 01 2017

Exam 2 Study Guide

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RUSS 3305/ML&L 3340 Exam 2: Tolstoy
In class, Friday, November 3
You will write an essay about two of the following subjects.
Bring a blue book, write with a pen

What are some of the issues facing families? How does Tolstoy address them? What views does he express?

How does Tolstoy address the role of women in society and the unique problems faced by women?

What are Tolstoy's views on the economic state of the country, its future development, the relationship of the classes after the liberation of the serfs?

What literary techniques does Tolstoy use? What are some of the features of his writing?

How does Tolstoy treat the subject of religion and spirituality?

What are some of the psychological insights that Tolstoy provides?

What are Tolstoy's views of art as expressed in the novel?

10:49 - U.S. Central Time Zone - Dr. Bruce Holl -

Friday, October 06 2017

Photographs of Lev Tolstoy

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Tolstoy Studies Journal


11:06 - U.S. Central Time Zone - Dr. Bruce Holl -

Tuesday, September 26 2017

Exam 1 Study Guide

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RUSS 3305/ML&L 3340 Exam 1
September 27, 2017
Bring a blue book, write in pen
No materials (notes, books) will be permitted

• You will choose one of the topics listed for each author and write an essay. This means you will write three essays in all, one per author.
• You will not summarize the story. You will frame your essay as a hypothesis supported by evidence in the form of passages in the novel. You will include as many details as you can.

Wrong. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a story about a girl from Kansas named Dorothy. During a tornado she and her dog Toto are lifted up off the ground and transported to a land called Oz. In Oz Dorothy meets a woodsman made out of tin, a scarecrow made out of straw, and a cowardly lion. The Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion decide to go with Dorothy to the capital city of Oz to meet the ruler, who is known as the Wizard, so he can help Dorothy and Toto get back to Kansas.

Right: The Wonderful Wizard if Oz is an allegory. The characters, places, and events in the story represent elements of American political life ca. 1900. The Scarecrow is the smartest character in the story, helping Dorothy to achieve her objectives, and yet he believes himself to be unintelligent. He represents American agriculture. This is evident from the fact that he is made of straw (a common item on farms ca. 1900) and dresses like a farmer (straw hat, overalls). Baum is saying that American agricultural workers are an important social and economic force in America. They should assert their rights and reject portrayals of themselves as stupid.

Lermontov: A Hero of Our Time
1. Pechorin's "heroic" behavior, how he justifies it, and what Lermontov is saying about such behavior.
2. The novel as a commentary on Russian policy in the Caucasus and treatment of the people there.
3. Nature passage as symbols or metaphors.

Dostoyevsky: The Gambler
1. Alexis (aka Alexei) as a representative of the dilemma faced by modern (1860s) Russia and youth in particular.
2. The novel as an illustration of the addiction model as applied to various types of human behavior.
3. Roulettenberg and the Russians there as a microcosm/allegory of Russia

Turgenev: Fathers and Children
1. The characters' political solutions to Russia's perceived problems, and Turgenev's view of these solutions.
2. Turgenev's take on the eternal conflict between generations.
3. Turgenev's descriptions of people and places to define the characters and illustrate the novel's themes.
4. The role of women in the novel.

14:35 - U.S. Central Time Zone - Dr. Bruce Holl -

Monday, August 28 2017

Map of the Caucasus

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The Caucasus Region (UT Austin Maps)

GeographyOfRussia.com Black Sea Map

11:26 - U.S. Central Time Zone - Dr. Bruce Holl -