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RUSS/LITR408:

RussianDecadentandSymbolistCultureinaEuropeanContext
Instructor:ZhenyaBershtein
W,69PM,Vollum228
Office:Vollum128.Officehours:M,W23PM.
Phone:5035177953.Email:zhenya@reed.edu
Fullcourseforonesemester.Conference.ThecourseexploresRussianDecadentand
SymbolistliteratureandcultureinabroadEuropeancontext.Wewillstudythe
philosophicalfoundationsofDecadentculture(Nietzsche,Solovyov);thepreoccupation
with"degeneration,"commonintheEuropeanscienceofthefindesicle(Nordau,
KrafftEbing,Weininger);the"aestheticism"(J.K.Huysmans,OscarWilde);the
interpretationsofsexuality(AndrGide,ThomasMann),Decadentmysticism,andother
topics.TheRussiancomponentofthereadingincludestheworksofLeoTolstoy,Anton
Chekhov,VladimirSolovyov,FedorSologub,MikhailKuzmin,MikhailArtsybashev,
AleksandrBlok,andAndreiBely.Thiscoursewillemphasizearesearchcomponent:a
twentypageresearchpaperwillbedueattheendofthesemester.Anadditionalweekly
sessionwillbescheduledforthosestudentswhotakethecourseforRussiancredit.In
thesesessions,wewillfocusonRussianSymbolistpoetry(Solovyov,ValeriiBriusov,
KonstantinBalmont,Sologub,ZinaidaGippius,Bely,ViacheslavIvanov,Kuzmin,Blok,
etal).Prerequisite:RUSS220orconsentoftheinstructor,ifyoutakethiscoursefor
Russiancredit.Texts:literarytexts;worksofliteraryscholarship;medical,historical,
andsociologicalwritings;films,aslideshow.Workload:extensivereading,oral
presentations,andaresearchpaperattheendofthesemester(approximately20pages).
Yourevaluationwillbebasedonyourcontributiontotheconference,andyourfinal
paper.
Bookstobuy:
J.K.Huysmans,rebours[AgainstNature]
LeoTolstoy,TheKreutzerSonata
VladimirSolovyov,TheMeaningofLove
FridrichNietzsche,TheBirthofTragedy
ThomasMann,DeathinVenice[ANortonCriticalEdition]
AndrGide,TheImmoralist
OscarWilde,DeProfundis
OscraWilde,Salom
MikhailArtsybashev,Sanin
AndreiBely,Petersburg
AntonChekhov,FivePlays
FyodorSologub,PettyDemon
MikhailKuzmin,Wings.

Allotherreadingassignmentswillbemadeavailableonereserveor,inrarecases,
distributedashandouts.

Syllabus
TopicOne:FindeSicle,Decline,andDegeneration
Wednesday,September3
1.Introduction:Modernity,Modernism,Symbolism,Decadence.
Texts(tobedistributedinclass):CharlesBaudelaire,"Correspondances"(1857),Paul
Verlaine"Artpotique"(1882),OscarWilde,ThePreface(1891)toThePictureof
DorianGray.
2.ChekhovsVisionsofCulturalDecline
Texts:AntonChekhov,TheCherryOrchard[ ](1903),
Collateralreading:Chekhov,TheBlackMonk[ ] (1893) (e-reserve
or online: http://www.readprint.com/work-360/Anton-Chekhov).
Wednesday,September10
1.Degeneration.
Text:MaxNordau,"FindeSicle,"Degeneration(1892),pp.144.
Collateralreading:ArthurSymons,"TheDecadentMovementinLiterature"(1893)
Backgroundreading:GeorgeMosse,"MaxNordauandHisDegeneration,"MaxNordau,
Degeneration,pp.xiiixxxvi.
2.AgainstNature.
Text:J.K.Huysmans,rebours[AgainstNature](1884)
TopicTwo:PsychopathiaSexualis,andtheMeaningofLove

Wednesday,September17
1.TolstoyonSexualMorality
Text:LeoTolstoy,TheKreutzerSonata[ ](1889).
Backgroundreading:PeterUlfMller,PostludetotheKreutzerSonata:Tolstojandthe
DebateonSexualMoralityinRussianLiteratureinthe1890s,pp.130and208234
(ChapterOne,TheUnmaskingofLove,andChapterTwo,TheKreutzerSonataasa
Context)
2.EpidemicofSexualPsychopathy.
Text:RichardKrafftEbing,selectionsfromPsychopathiaSexualis(12thedition,1903);
OttoWeininger,selectionsfromSexandCharacter(1903).
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Backgroundreading:HarryOosterhuis,StepchildrenofNature:KrafftEbing,Psychiatry,
andtheMakingofSexualIdentity(TheChicagoSeriesonSexuality,History,and
Society),pp.215286(PartIV,PsychiatryandSexualIdentityinFindeSicle
Culture).

Wednesday,September24.
1.MetaphysicsofLove
Text:VladimirSolovyov,TheMeaningofLove[ ](189294)
Backgroundreading:OlgaMatich,TheMeaningofMeaningofLove(ChapterTwoin
herEroticUtopia,pp.5788).
2.TheBeautifulLady
Texts:AleksandrBlok,selectedpoems.
Backgroundreading:Matich,TheCaseofAleksandrBlok...(ChapterThreeinher
EroicUtopia,pp.89125).

TopicThree:DionysusandtheDionysian
Wednesday,October1
TheBirthofTragedy
Texts:FridrichNietzsche,TheBirthofTragedy(1872).
VladimirSolovyov,TheIdeaofaSuperman[ ](1899);
ViacheslavIvanov,NietzscheandDionysis[ ](1904).
Wednesday,October8
DeathinVenice
1.Text:ThomasMann,DeathinVenice(1911)[ANortonCriticalEdition]
Backgroundreading:ManfredDierks,"Nietzsche'sBirthofTragedyandMann'sDeathin
Venice,"pp.130149intheNortoncriticaledition;T.J.Reed,"TheArtofAmbivalence,"
ibid.,pp.150177.
2.DiscussionofLuchinoViscontisfilmDeathinVenice(screeningTBA)
TopicFour:Immoralism
Wednesday,October15
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1.Text:AndrGide,TheImmoralist(1902)
2.Text:MikhailArtsybashev,Sanin[](1907)
Backgroundreading:LauraEngelstein,TheKeystoHappiness:SexandSearchfor
ModernityinFindeSicleRussia,pp.359420(Chapter10."FromAvantGardeto
Boulevard:LiterarySex")
FALLBREAK

TopicFive:Aestheticism
Wednesday,October29
1.Wilde
Text:OscarWilde,DeProfundis(1897,publishedin1905)
Backgroundreading:AdamGopnik,TheInventionofOscarWilde,NewYorker,May
18,1998,pp.7888;EvgeniiBershtein,"TheRussianMythofOscarWilde,"Selfand
StoryinRussianHistory,LauraEnglesteinandStephanieSandler,eds.,CornellUP,
2000,pp.168188.
2.TheRussianWilde
Text:MikhailKuzmin,Wings[](1906)
Backgroundreading:DonaldGillis,ThePlatonicThemeinKuzmin'sWings,
SlavicandEastEuropeanJournal22,(1978):p.33647.

TopicSix:TheDemonicWoman
Wednesday,November5
Salom:ScreeningandDiscussion
Text:OscarWilde,Salom(1894).
Film:KenRussell(dir.),Salom'sLastDance(1988)
Wednesday,November12
Filmanddiscussion:EvgeniiBauer(director),ChildofaBigCity[
](1915).
Collateralreading:GeorgSimmel,"TheMetropolisandMentalLife"(1903).

Backgroundreading:LouiseMcReynolds,"TheSilentMovieMelodrama:EvgeniiBauer
FashionstheHeroine'sSelf,"SelfandStoryinRussianHistory,pp.120140.
Wednesday,November15
Text:FedorSologub,ThePettyDemon[ ](1906)
Backgroundreading:theessaysintheArdisedition.
TopicSeven:SymbolismintheArts
Wednesday,November19
1.TheWorldofArt
SlideshowandDiscussion:
GustaveMoreau,AubreyBeardsley,andtheWorldofArtgroup.
2.SergeDiaghilev'sBalletsRusses(19091929)
Screeninganddiscussion:"L'Aprsmidid'unfaun"(1912);"LespectredelaRose"
(1911).Collateralreading:IsadoraDuncan,TheDanceroftheFuture(1902),Mikhail
Fokin,TheNewRussianBallet(LettertotheeditorofTheTimes[1919]).
FRIDAY,November21:thetopicsandoutlines(23pages)ofstudents'final
researchpapersaredue.
TopicEight:DecadentTheology
Wednesday,November26
Text:PavelFlorenskii,ThePillarandGroundoftheTruth[
](1914),pp.284343(LetterEleven["Friendship"]andLetterTwelve
["Jealousy"]).
Backgroundreading:RichardGustafson,"IntroductiontotheTranslation,"ibid.,pp.ix
xxiii.
[Wewillspendthesecondhalfoftheclassonthediscussionofyourpaperproposals]
TopicNine:SymbolismandtheRussianRevolution
Wednesday,December3
Text:AndreiBely,Petersburg[],1913.Read:prologueandchaptersone
tofour.Backgroundreading:RobertMaguire,JohnMalmstad,Translators
Introduction,ibid.,viiixx.
[Wewillspendthesecondhalfoftheclassonstudentspresentationsoftheirfinal
projectsinprogress].
Wednesday,December10
Text:Bely'sPetersburg.Readfromchaptersfivetotheend.
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[Wewillspendthesecondhalfoftheclassonstudentspresentationsoftheirfinal
projectsinprogress].
FinalpapersaredueonThursday,December18atnooninProf.Bershtein'soffice.
Electronicsubmissionsarenotaccepted.

SuggestedSecondaryReading
Russia
JohnE.Bowlt,TheSilverAge:RussianArtoftheEarlyTwentiethCenturyandthe
"WorldofArt"Group(Newtonville,Mass.1979).
PamelaDavidson,ThePoeticImaginationofVyacheslavIvanov:ARussianSymbolists
PerceptionofDante(Cambridge,1989).
LynnGarafola,Diaghilev's

BalletsRusses(Oxford,1989).
JoanDelaneyGrossman,ValeryBryusovandtheRiddleofRussianDecadence
(Berkeley,1985).
LauraEngelstein,TheKeystoHappiness:SexandtheSearchforModernityinFinde
SicleRussia(Ithaca,1992).
AndrejBely:SpiritofSymbolism,JohnE.Malmstad,ed.(Ithaca,1987).
JohnE.Malmstad,NikolayBogomolov,MikhailKuzmin:ALifeinArt(Harvard,1999).
OlgaMatich,EroticUtopia:TheDecadentImaginationinRussiasFindeSicle
(Wisconsin2005).
IreneMasingDelic,AbolishingDeath:ASalvationMythofRussianTwentiethCentury
Literature(Stanford,1992).
IrinaPapernoandJoanDelaneyGrossman,eds.,CreatingLife:TheAesthetic
UtopiaofRussianModernism(Stanford,1994).
AvrilPyman,AHistoryofRussianSymbolism(Cambridge,1994).
AvrilPyman,ALifeofAleksandrBlok,2vols.(Oxford,19791980).

TemiraPachmuss,ZinaidaHippius:AnIntellectualProfile(Carbondale,1971).
NietzscheinRussia,BerniceGlatzerRosenthal,ed.(Princeton,1986).
BerniceGlatzerRosenthal,NewMyth,NewWorld:FromNietzschetoStalinism
(UniversityPark,PA,2002).
RussianSymbolists:AnAnthologyofCriticalandTheoreticalWriting,RonalPeterson,
ed.(NewArbor,1986).
MichaelWachtel, RussianSymbolismandLiteraryTradition:Goethe,Novalis,andthe
PoeticsofVyacheslavIvanov(Madison,Wis.,1994)
JamesWest,RussianSymbolism(London,1970).

Europe
AesthetesandDecadentsofthe1890s:AnAnthologyofBritishPoetryandProse,Karl
Beckson,ed.(Chicago,1981)
CharlesBernheimer,DecadentSubjects:TheIdeaofDecadenceinArt,Literature,
Philosophy,andCultureoftheFindeSicle

inEurope(Baltimore,2002).
BramDijkstra,IdolsofPerversity:FantasiesofFeminineEvilinFindeSicleCulture
(Oxford,1988).
RichardEllmann,OscarWilde(NewYork,1988).
TheDecadentReader:Fiction,Fantasy,andPerversionfromFindeSicleFrance,Asti
Hustvedt,ed. (NewYork,1998).
DanielPick,FacesofDegeneration:AEuropeanDisorder,c.1848c.1918(Cambridge,
1993).

JeanPierrot,DecadentImagination,18801900,tr.DerekColtman(Chicago,1981).
AlanSinfield,TheWildeCentury:Effeminacy,OscarWilde,andtheQueerMoment
(London,1994).
ElaineShowalter,SexualAnarchy:GenderandCultureattheFindeSicle(NY,1990)
BarbaraSpackman,DecadentGenealogies:TheRhetoricofSicknessfromBaudelaireto
DAnnuzio(Ithaca,1989).
EugenWeber,France,FindeSicle(Cambridge,Mass.,1986).