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Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Introduction to
Course.
Overview of Materials.

Document-based
discussion: Why did the
Russian aristocracy resist
the construction of St.
Petersburg?

The Bronze
Horsemen
Whole class
discussion

The Bronze
Horseman
Whole class
discussion

Structured Academic
Controversy:
Does Pushkin side with
Peter or Evgenii? Is the
suffering of the ordinary
people a necessary price for
progress?

Biographical
information on
Pushkin. (Nabokov
and other sources)

The Queen of Spades


Whole class discussion

The Queen of
Spades
Whole class
discussion

The
Undertaker
Whole class
discussion

Student-led Lit circles:


Students discuss their own
questions on the readings.

Week
Three

Russian names
activity.

The Nose
Whole class discussion

Nabokov on
Gogol

(Gogol)
The
Petersburg
Tales

Student-led Lit Circles


Students discuss their own
questions on the readings.

Explanation of
complex civil service
and the Table of
Ranks.
Urbanization.

Nevsky
Prospect
Whole class
discussion

Week Four

In-class essay
How does Gogol
represent urban
alienation?

The Overcoat
Whole class discussion

Diary of a
Madman
Whole class
discussion

Wilson on
Gogol.

Structured Academic
Controversy: Should we
ignore what Gogol said
about his writing?
(Nabokov vs. Wilson)

Week One
(Pushkin)
The Making of
St. Petersburg

Week Two
(Pushkin)
The Making of
Russian
Literature

(Gogol)

Russia in 1800. Short


lecture and slideshow.
Assign readings.

Reading Quiz!

Dead Souls
excerpts.

WEEK ONE Introduction to Russian Literature. Pushkin.

OVERVIEW / RATIONALE
Introduce students to the course: assignments, expectations, etc.
Provide brief introduction to Russian history post-1700, especially
as it relates to the city of St. Petersburg and its significance to
Russian history and culture.
Introduce students to Alexander Pushkin, especially the text The
Bronze Horseman.
ENDURING UNDERSTANDINGS
Tension between historical progress and the individual is present
from the very beginning of Russian literary history.
St. Petersburg is a symbolically loaded place in Russian literature,
suffused with the weight of history.
Class tensions are here from the beginning. Russia is a
th
hierarchical society. Serfdom still existed until the 19 century.
Stirrings of dissent existed as well, as seen in the Decemberist
Uprising (1825).
The sublime and the beautiful in Romantic aesthetics.
MATERIALS
SMART Board and projector. I use slideshows often, and like to model
close reading by annotating text on the board. Also, during discussion, I
enjoy writing student answers on the board and have found that this helps
with participation.
Some kind of online database where I can post slideshows and other
lesson materials for students to access easily.
Printed copies of The Bronze Horseman.
Printed copies of Peter the Great and the Westernization of Russia.
Prepared documents for Tuesdays document based discussion and
Fridays Structured Academic Controversy.

MONDAY (Introduction to the Course Background on Russian


history and literature)
Hand out syllabi.
Discuss expectations and major assignments.
Activate prior understanding. Brainstorm about what
students know about Russia. Write answers on the board.
Short lecture on Russia in 1800. What was the social
structure like? The government? Where did people live?
How did Russia compare to other European nations?
Basically, students need to know it was mostly an agrarian
society with two urban centers: Petersburg and Moscow.
Urbanization was happening later than in many other parts
of Europe, but was still provoking cultural anxiety.
The Eastern Orthodox Church was an important institution.
There were also religious minorities, including Jews, who
faced persecution.

Homework: Read Peter the Great and the Westernization of


Russia. This is a collection of primary sources historical and
modern views of him and his reign.
TUESDAY (Document Based Discussion)
Class will begin with short reflection on the reading. Lecture
and slideshow establishing background knowledge on Peter
the Great and the founding of St. Petersburg. The aim is to
answer these questions:
o Why did Peter the Great want to modernize Russia?
o What does it mean to modernize?
o What resistance did Peter the Great meet in his
attempt to transform the nation into a world power?
o Why did Peter the Great want to found a new capital
on the coast of the Gulf of Finland?
o What was the human cost of this project?
o Why did so many people resist moving the capital?
Document-based discussion

Prepared handout on the sublime and the beautiful, including passages


from Kant and Coleridge.

Central Historical Question: Why did so many resist


Peters plan to move the capital to St. Petersburg?
o Two sides I will suggest: 1.) Nobles wanted to
preserve their traditional power. 2.) There was
anxiety about the influence of Europe and
Enlightenment ideals.
o Packet of documents will be prepared. Graphic
organizer plus selections from reading last night,
offering multiple perspectives on the historical
question.
o This, however, will be a whole class discussion, not
a Structured Academic Controversy, which is a
structured small group argument.
Homework: ReadThe Bronze Horseman. Introduction and Part
One.
WEDNESDAY (Whole class discussion)
Class will begin with a warm up that they will write in their
notebook. I will collect these warm ups every two weeks.
Warm up question: What qualities does the poem ascribe to
St. Petersburg? Use specific examples from the text.
o Students will share their responses to this question.
Teacher will project relevant passages from the text
on the board for close reading.

WEDNESDAY Cont.
Essential understandings for this lecture/discussion are 1.) the
ambivalent description of St. Petersburg, which is at once
beautiful, cold and harsh. 2.) the depiction of Peter the Great as a
Romantic visionary. (We will talk about Romanticism briefly. I will
show them The Wanderer by Caspar David Friedrich 3.) The idea
of the sublime vs. the beautiful.
Re. 3.) I will give them a handout with selections from Kant and
Coleridge on the sublime and the beautiful. We will discuss how
Petersburg and The Bronze Horseman are sublime.
Homework: Finish reading The Bronze Horseman

THURSDAY (Whole class discussion)


Class will open with a warm up that activates prior knowledge.

Warm up: find one example of something sublime, and explain


why it is sublime. Find one example of something beautiful, and
explain why it is beautiful. Refer to your handout with passages
from Kant and Coleridge.
Class will closely parse relevant sections of this poem. Discuss
questions that emerge: 1.) What does the storm represent? 2.)
Why does Evgenii direct his rage against the Bronze Horseman?
3.) Is the poem an allegory?

Homework: No homework!!! Dont taunt statues.


FRIDAY (Structured Academic Controversy)
At this point, students will know enough about this topic to engage
in an in depth conversation.
Central Question: Does Pushkin sympathize with Peter the Great
(historical necessity) or Evgenii (the common man)?
Students will be given a packet of documents to look at and a
graphic organizer to help structure their positions. They will be
assigned roles at first, but then we will move to a more free form
discussion.
Goal is for students to see that this question is really impossible.
Pushkin is saying something profound about the relation between
the individual and the state but its still mysterious.
Homework: Read The Strange Death of Pushkin (1999) New York
Review of Books

WEEK TWO Pushkin cont.

OVERVIEW / RATIONALE
Get further into Pushkin
Introduce the role and influence of Europe,
especially Romanticism, Pushkin.
ENDURING UNDERSTANDINGS
Pushkins place in Russian literature
Romanticism and Gothic fiction the influence of
Europe, especially Germany.
St. Petersburg as a haunted city. (Haunting as
metaphor)

MATERIALS
SMART Board and projector. I use slideshows often, and
like to model close reading by annotating text on the
board. Also, during discussion, I enjoy writing student
answers on the board and have found that this helps with
participation.
Some kind of online database where I can post slideshows
and other lesson materials for students to access easily.
Printed copies of The Queen of Spades, and The
Undertaker

WEDNESDAY Cont.
Is this story a moral warning or does it seem like it
is just fun? Are there serious ideas to take away
from this?
What do you think of Heinemann and his friends?
What kinds of people are they? What does this
suggest about the wealthy leisure class in Russia

MONDAY (Pushkins biography Lecture and Discussion)


Warm up: What, if anything, did you learn about Russian culture from last
nights reading?
Slideshow and lecture about Pushkin. Last week, we mostly focused on the
text. Here I want to talk about his legacy.
Introduce the names of his major masterpieces, selections from each of
them.
Pushkin and Romanticism. What is Romanticism? How does it appear in
other countries and what is different about Russia?
Look at passages from Nabokov describing his importance.
Class discussion: Do you think The Bronze Horseman was a great work?
Why or why not?
Homework: Read the first half of the Queen of Spades.
TUESDAY (Reading quiz and discussion)
o We will work through The Queen of Spades. Questions to consider:
1.) Why do you think Pushkin made the protagonist German? 2.)
What generational themes are at play here? How is the Countess
described differently from other people in the text? 3.) What kinds of
themes and characters do you associate with cards?
o If there is time left over after close reading and discussion, we can
read in class.
Homework: Finish the Queen of Spades.
WEDNESDAY (Whole class discussion)
o
Warm up: Did you find this story suspenseful? If so, why? What
techniques can an author use to generate suspense?
o Discuss the symbolism of the cards, the Countess.

at the time?
I will launch into a lesson on seduction in
Romantic literature. Heinemann is a seducer, or
wants to be where have we seen characters like
that before?

Homework: Read The Undertaker (The Coffin Maker in


our translation)
THURSDAY (Whole class guided discussion)
Warm up: Compare the role of ghosts in The
Queen of Spades and The Undertaker? In what
contexts do they appear? Who do they visit and
why?
Discuss parallels and differences between the two
prose works by Pushkin we read this week and
The Bronze Horseman.
Homework: Come up with two discussion questions about
anything we have discussed so far in the course. Submit
on Google Classroom (or whatever we have) for a grade.)
These questions will be the basis of class discussions
tomorrow.
FRIDAY (Student-led discussions)
*Collect warm-ups at the beginning of the period. These
are graded for both effort and understanding.

These seem risky, but they are actually super


productive, in my experience, as long as
interesting discussions have been taking place in
class thusfar and students have things to say
about the texts.
Students are split into groups of five. For the entire
period, they discuss the readings, based on the
questions they have created for homework.
If they finish early, I will have some anecdotal
work about Pushkins life they can read.

Homework: No homework! Steer clear of casinos, ghosts,


and skeletons!

WEEK THREE Gogol

OVERVIEW / RATIONALE
With Gogol, we get into the really dark, philosophical side of
Russian literature. Hes a very strange author, at once very
modern and very reactionary. It will be interesting to see what
American students make of him!
Provide a brief summary of urban life in St. Petersburg in the first
th
half of the 19 century, especially as it regards the elaborate civil
service rankings and the role that played in how people identified.
Introduce how urban life seemed alien, scary, and false to Gogol
a man from rural Ukraine.
I want students to really understand dark humor: How can
something be horrifying and hilarious? This is the key to Gogols
sensibility.
ENDURING UNDERSTANDINGS
Russian names patronyms, diminutives etc. How to not get lost
when reading Russian books.
Russian civil service rankings. Why were these meaningful?
Gogols anxieties about modern life. Politically, this expressed
itself in right wing politics and religious extremism. Artistically, it
expressed itself in a kind of dark surrealist humor.
A big theme with Gogol is that one must mistrust appearances.
But what is concealed behind the appearances? There is a
mysterious quality to his fiction that prevents it from functioning as
didactic.
Russian concept of poshlost: the Russian word for banality. For
Gogol, this carries very dark connotations indeed the banality of
urban life, the struggle to be noticed, has a horrifying element.
Creeping suspicion that life is meaningless.
MATERIALS
SMART Board and projector. I use slideshows often, and like to model
close reading by annotating text on the board. Also, during discussion, I
enjoy writing student answers on the board and have found that this helps

MONDAY (Lesson on urbanization and the civil service. Also: intro to


Russian names.)
Hand out intro to Russian naming conventions. The
patronymic, diminuitive, the different shortened forms of
names. Students will learn why the same character is called
multiple different names by different characters.
What would your name be like in Russian? (Activity)
Hand out the Table of Ranks. Short lecture on why Peter the
Great created this bureaucracy, and how this overturned
older forms of hierarchy.
Homework: Read The Nose
TUESDAY (Whole class Discussion)
Warm Up: What was your impression of the Nose? Did you
find it funny? Unsettling?
In discussion, we will activate their knowledge of the civil
service positions, which Peter the Great more or less
invented.
How is the main character obsessed with status?
Is this work a satire?
Homework: Read Nevsky Prospect
WEDNESDAY (Whole class discussion)
o Warm up: Compare the protagonist in Nevsky
Prospect to the in The Nose. Is this also satirical?
What do you think the target was?
o Description of Nevsky Prospect, the street. The
quality of urban life that involves being seen.
o Compare to Champs Elysee. The French flaneur as
a symbol of urban modern life a life devoted to
observation/enjoyment rather than duty.
o Introduce Poshlost: tackiness. Nabokovs definitions

with participation.
Some kind of online database where I can post slideshows and other
lesson materials for students to access easily.
Gogol, Nikolai. Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol. Trans. Richard Pevear
and Larissa Volohonsky (1999).
Scanned excerpts from Nabokovs biographical monograph, Nikolai Gogol
(1961)
Scanned excerpts from Edmund Wilsons A Window Onto Russia.
Handouts on Russian names and Civil Service positions.

WEDNESDAY Cont.
can be projected on the SMART Board. Why is bad taste and
kitsch so horrible for Gogol?
Does Gogol have affection for his characters? Do you want him
to?
Homework: Read selections from Nabokovs book on Gogol.

THURSDAY (Whole class guided discussion)


Warm up: Why is Gogol brilliant, according to Nabokov? Use your
text.
This Nabokov book reveals Gogols contradictory nature. By
drawing connections between what Gogol said and what students
have said in class, we can try to come to a rounded understanding
of who Gogol was and what he was trying to do. I dont yet want to
look at what he thought he was doing or what his contemporaries
thought he was doing for modern audiences, it is the surrealism
that makes the biggest impression, I feel.
Homework: Create questions for student led discussions! Submit online
for a grade!
FRIDAY (Student led discussions)
Same process as last week!
Homework: Walk up and down Broad Street and record what you see.

Compare it to Gogols depiction of Nevsky Prospect. One paragraph.


Submit on Google Classroom.

WEEK FOUR: Gogol Pt. 2


OVERVIEW / RATIONALE
Round out our unit on Gogol
Encounter his masterpiece: The Overcoat
Students pick out author for final project.
Reintroduce this notion of the intentional fallacy.
ENDURING UNDERSTANDINGS
Artistic intentionality is often different from what is actually accomplished.
Gogol wanted to be a strong moral voice, but he was a comic genius who
allowed just the right degree of horror to peek out from behind the comic
faade. Very little of what he wrote was morally uplifting, though he
claimed that was his goal.
th
Urbanism and alienation were seen as closely linked in the 19 century.
Relates back to The Bronze Horseman: The city as a place where people
get lost.
MATERIALS
SMART Board and projector. I use slideshows often, and like to model close
reading by annotating text on the board. Also, during discussion, I enjoy writing
student answers on the board and have found that this helps with participation.
Some kind of online database where I can post slideshows and other lesson
materials for students to access easily.
Gogol, Nikolai. Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol. Trans. Richard Pevear and
Larissa Volohonsky (1999).
Scanned excerpts from Nabokovs biographical monograph, Nikolai Gogol (1961)
Scanned excerpts from Edmund Wilsons A Window Onto Russia.
Prepared materials for structured academic controversy on Gogol and

MONDAY (In-Class essay + Assigning final assignment)


Essay topic: How does Gogol depict St. Petersburg?
Do you see connections between his depiction and
Pushkins? Use textual evidence to support your
claims.
Students will have been thinking about final project.
Now they can request their author and we can work
out discrepancies.
Homework: Read The Overcoat
TUESDAY (Whole class discussion)
o Finding affinities between The Overcoat and
The Bronze Horseman may take the whole
class.
o Both Akaky Akakievich and Evgenii are weak
victims who have something taken from them
and then go mad. But how are they depicted
differently?
o Is Akaky Akakievich also an allegory for the R
Homework: Read Diary of a Madman
WEDNESDAY (Whole class discussion)
o
Warm up: Was this story funny? Was it
supposed to be?
o Gogols irreverent treatment of mental illness
might seem offensive at first, as there are

intentionality.

WEDNESDAY Cont.

definitely parts he plays up for laughs.


The story ends on a devastating note as the madman is taken to an
asylum.
Opportunity to discuss technique Gogol usesthe abrupt tonal shift. The
end is shocking because we are not prepared for it we have been
conditioned (by Gogol!) to see the madman as an image of fun.
Is this manipulative? Do we like the fact that Gogol plays games with us?
Is it perhaps justified because the end result is to cause us to feel a
sudden sting of empathy?

Homework: Read Edmund Wilsons chapter on Gogol.


THURSDAY (Whole class guided discussion)
Warm up: Compare Edmund Wilsons description of Gogol to Nabokovs.
Whose do you find more convincing, based on the texts?
Well discuss what, if anything, you can learn about a person by
examining their literary output.
Second half of class will be a lecture about Dead Souls what he tried to
do with the project and what people actually like about it.
Look at excerpts from Dead Souls. The role of the con-artist. Connectiont
to Queen of Spades?
As always, students will lead the discussion in surprising directions.
Homework: No homework.
FRIDAY (Structured Academic Controvery)
*Collect warm-ups at the beginning of the period. These are graded for both effort
and understanding.

Same deal as the Bronze Horseman discussion. Documents are


prepared for students to examine; students fill out graphic organizers in
pairs and discuss in small groups.
The central question here is this: Should we pay attention to authors
when they discuss their artistic goals?
Wilson and Nabokov have different views on this, which Ill explore.
There will also be some general questions to examine about whether

intention matters.
This discussion is related to the first one we had, last week, but not the
same. Gogol was open about his intentions whereas Pushkin was
evasive. However, Gogols statements on his intentions seem (to
Nabokov) to be counter to his accomplishment.
During his lifetime, Gogol was censored by the tsars officials, who
thought he was was promoting a liberal anti-tsarist agenda. This was
horrifying to Gogol, who did not see his work this way at all. If anything,
he saw himself as a Russophile attacking Europeanization.
Homework: No homework!