Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
RUS 241
Course Title:
Great Russian Writers
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduction to Russian literature's great writers including Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Zoschenko, Olesha and Bulgakov. Explores themes, genres, style, historical context, social, and cultural issues. Course conducted in English and all readings in English. No knowledge of Russian needed. Prerequisites: Placement into WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Students will:

1.         Gain an appreciation of Russian literature.

2.         Gain knowledge of Russian cultural issues. 

3.         Read a variety of texts by major Russian writers and discuss themes, genre, style, historical context, social and cultural issues, and literary elements in them.

4.         Gain an understanding of how major Russian writers influenced and

            contributed to the development of Russian literature.

5.         Explore how such influences as culture, religion, political and social

            history are revealed through literary expression.

6.         Communicate effectively using response journals and short analytical


Outcome Assessment Strategies

The following tools may be used to assess students' progress in the course:

1.         Large group discussions

2.         Small group discussions

3.         Written responses to discussion questions

4.         Response journals

5.         Short analytical essays

6.         Oral presentations

7.         Written or oral exams

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

1.         Use of literary conventions such as theme, setting, plot, character, point     of view, narrative styles, symbolism, and imagery.

2.         Development of early-mid 19th century literature as represented by Pushkin, Lermontov and/or Gogol.

3.         Romanticism in Russian literature.

4.         Romanticism in Russian painting.

5.         Myth of St. Petersburg and its depictions in Russian literature.

6.         Russian society in 19th century, the role of rank, and Westernization.

7.         Russian beliefs about fate and pre-determination.

8.         Madness in Russian literature and cultural beliefs about it.

9.         Development of Mid-late 19th century literature as represented by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and or Chekhov.

10.       Realism in Russian literature and Russian painting.

11.       The superfluous man in Russian literature and culture.

12.       Cultural beliefs about redemption through suffering.

13.       Russian death traditions.

14.       Russian Symbolist and Acmeist movements in poetry and prose as represented by Blok, Sologub, Andreev, Akhmaktova and/or Mandelstam.

15.       Development of Soviet satire as represented by Zoschenko, Bulgakov, Olesha

16.       Soviet satire vs. Socialist Realism

17.       Utopian society vs. communist reality as depicted by Zoschenko, Bulgakov, Olesha and/or Voinovich.

18.       Role of the writer in Russian society and culture.


1.         Demonstrating knowledge about major Russian writers and their contributions to Russian literature.

2.         Demonstrating understanding of cultural issues presented in texts.

3.         Critical analysis of themes and style of a text.

4.         Understanding texts through cultural, social, historical, political, artistic, and other contexts.

5.         Increased critical thinking skills.

6.         Increased competency in writing about literature.

7.         Small group collaboration.

8.         Speaking and listening reflectively