A Cultural History of 19th Century Russia with George Swope
Thursday afternoons from 2-4 p. m.
In person if possible at Wellfleet Library. Otherwise on Zoom.
October 21, 28, November 4, 11, 18.
Course limited to 18 participants.
“For the past two hundred years the arts in Russia have served as an arena for political, philosophical and religious debate in the absence of a parliament or a free press….Nowhere has the artist been more burdened with the task of moral leadership and national prophecy, nor more feared and persecuted by the state. Alienated from official Russia by their politics, and from peasant Russia by their education, Russia’s artists took it upon themselves to create a national community of values and ideas through literature and art. What did it mean to be a Russian? What was Russia’s place and mission in the world? And where was the true Russia? In Europe or in Asia? St Petersburg or Moscow? These were the ‘accursed questions’ that occupied the mind of every serious writer, literary critic and historian, painter and composer, theologian and philosopher in the golden age of Russian culture from Pushkin to Pasternak.
(Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia - Orlando Figes)
This course examines many of these questions through the writings of several major authors of this period, particularly as they relate to the major cultural movements of the time such as the Slavophiles, Westernizers, and the Populists. Attention also is given to the political developments that informed these authors and the cultural movements.
Text: The Portable Nineteenth-Century Russian Reader – Gibian, George, Ed.