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Course Information

Instructor Info:Polina Barskova
Office Extension x6178
James Wald
Office Extension x5592
Kelly Fitzpatrick
Term: 2012F
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
02:00 PM - 03:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 107
02:00 PM - 03:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 107
07:00 PM - 09:00 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 107

How can culture resist in the political realm? How do you make your screams and sardonic laughter heard? The overarching framework of our course will be the dynamic of authority and resistance in the modern and contemporary era. In the course of the twentieth century, the countries of east-central and eastern Europe experienced monarchical rule, democracy, Nazism, and communism. How and why do given groups attempt to assert their authority? Why, when, and by what means do others resist? We will look at various literary and cinematic texts from Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic aiming to decipher various scenarios and textologies of the cultural resistance to power.

Course Objectives:

Expectations: You will be expected to write three longer analytical papers (one of them is your final project) on class material as well as provide forum responses and discussion threads.

Also, you will present in class orally after having prepared in assigned groups.


For your final project you’ll have to formulate your own story of the cultural resistance in Eastern Europe in the XX century building on 5-6 texts discussed in class.

Additional Info:

Books to be purchased Amherst Books, 8 Main Street  Amherst, MA 01002 (413) 256-1547 ):


. Jaroslav Hašek, The Good Soldier Švejk and His Fortunes in the World War, trans.ed. Cecil Parrott (NY: Penguin Classics, 2005)

. Yevgeny Zamyatin, We, trans. Natasha Randall (NY: Modern Library, 2006)

. Oberiu: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism, ed. Eugene Ostashevsky


. Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (NY: Basic Books, 2012) [NOTE: will be available in October]

. Samuel D. Kassow, Who Will Write Our History?: Rediscovering a Hidden Archive from the Warsaw Ghetto (NY: Vintage, 2009)

. Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles


. Bohumil Hrabal, Closely Watched Trains