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Modules

Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages

 

SL Nationalism: Literature and Nationalism in Poland, Russia and Ukraine

Course Convenor: Dr Rory Finnin, Department of Slavonic Studies

Nationalism has been the most influential political force in the history of the modern world. In Russia and Eastern Europe, it owes its existence to literature. This module explores the role of literature in the imagining of an abstract community bound by feelings of “deep, horizontal comradeship” (Anderson). Bridging the disciplines of the social sciences and the humanities, it first considers theoretical works that posit, among other things, the profound influence of communicative processes on nations and nationalism – from Deutsch’s systems of social communication to Anderson’s print-capitalism – and then examines the particular role of literature and art in these processes. To what extent is nationalism, a political principle that makes empirical claims to sovereignty vested in ‘a people’, contingent on the imagined and the imaginary? What lies beneath the claim that ‘there is no fine nationality without literature’ and ‘no fine literature without nationality’ (Yeats)?

The reading for this module will attend to such questions with a specific focus on the literature of Russia, Poland and Ukraine in the mid-nineteenth century. Close attention will be paid to the works of Aleksandr Pushkin and Fedor Tiutchev; Adam Mickiewicz and Juliusz Słowacki; and Nikolai Gogol and Taras Shevchenko.

The module will be open to students who have a good reading knowledge of Polish. Russian and/or Ukrainian.

Topics covered:

  1. Eternal or Modern? Nations and the Crisis of Nationalism Studies
  2. ‘Official Nationality’ vs Unofficial Nationalities in Nineteenth-Century Russia
  3. Nationalism and the Lyric
  4. Nationalism and the Novel
  5. Is the Post- in ‘Post-Soviet’ the Post- in ‘Post-National’?

 

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