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Formative Masterpieces: 19

th

 century Russian literature 

 Russian / Englit 0590  

Instructor: Yuliya Basina 

 

      


basina@pitt.edu

 

                  office CL 1417 (Slavic Languages Department) 



 

      office hours T Th 2:30 – 3:45 

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course will be devoted to reading of important works from 19th 

century Russian literature. Authors will include famous writers, such as Alexandr Pushkin, Nikolai 

Gogol, Leo Tolstoy, Feodor Dostoyevsky, and Anton Chekhov, as well as authors much less known in 

the West. Every work will be examined  in terms of structure and literary techniques, as well as in 

terms of its literary and social impact. The course will consist of lectures and discussions. All students 

are expected to actively participate in the discussions, and their participation will be graded. 

 

REQUIRED READINGS: Every week, students will receive the required reading from the instructor. 

Readings are due the following week. Some texts are longer than others. 

 

REQUIREMENTS:  

Attendence and participation (20% of final grade): Attendence will be taken at the 

beginning of every class. Any students arriving after attendance has been taken must 

check in with the instructor at the end of the class or accept being marked absent. 

Excused absence due to illness—personal or in the family—must be documented and 

absent students are responsible for acquiring relevant class notes. All unexcused absences 

will receive an automatic grade of “UA” for that session. Five such “UA” grades will 

result in an “F” for the course 

 

Active participation in class discussions is crucial to the course. Silence during class 



discussions receives a grade of “C”; after five consecutive such grades, silence receives a 

grade of “D”; and after five more, a grade of “F.” 

 

Presentations (20% of final grade): Each student will make a 10-15 minute individual 

presentation on one of the works read for the class. Students may chose which aspect of 

the work they prefer to focus on for their presentation. However, their choice must be 

discussed with the instructor. 

 

Examinations (30% of final grade): Instead of a midterm and a final exam, there will be three hour 

exams during the semester. Each exam will consist of a series of identifications (names, years, titles, 

events, etc.) and two essay-answers. No exam will be re-scheduled and no make-up exams are 

permitted. 

 

Quizzes (10% of final grade): There will be announced and unannounced quizzes 

during the semester. Each quiz will last a maximum of 15 minutes. Quizzes will consist 

of some of the following: identification, narrative developments, literary devices, and 

historical or critical commentary.  

Students who are absent on the day of a quiz receive no grade on the 

quiz. No quiz will be re-scheduled and no make-up quizzes are permitted. 




Journals (20% of final grade): Students will be required to keep a journal, recording 

responses to the works we read. These responses will also be used to stimulate class 

discussion. Journal assignments will help students to prepare for class discussions  and to 

review for the exams.  

Reading all assignments, Attendance and Participation in class discussion are mandatory. Two excused 

absences are permitted during the term. Further absences will affect your grade.  

Quizzes and the writing of in-class paragraphs will be used to identify the works and clarify 

ideas/questions raised in the stories, and to further stimulate class discussion. Missed quizzes will not 

be made up. 

Journal entries should be focused and analytical. Typed journal entries will be handed in 3 times on 

the days of each hour exam.

Write up journal commentaries on at least 4 stories/2 authors in each segment. Each journal should 

be a minimum of 8 pages and no more than 12 pages. Each commentary should have its own theme, 

although you may compare two or more stories in one entry for a richer discussion, e.g., Discuss 

characterization of Russian women or Russian men in 2-3 stories, or by 2 different authors; or compare 

the Use of Irony in two different stories by two different authors; or the Construction of Plot in two 

stories or by two different authors; or Point of View or a recurrent Theme and its representation in 2 or 

more stories; or Use of Symbolism or Use of Setting by different authors; or Comic elements in Gogol, 

etc. Refer to “Aspects of Narrative” (see last pages) for terms, and suggestions. 

  

 



ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: 

All students are expected to act with civility and personal integrity; respect other 

students’ dignity, rights and property; and help create and maintain an environment in 

which all can succeed through the fruits of their own efforts. An environment of 

academic integrity is requisite to respect for self and others and a civil community. 

 

Academic integrity includes a commitment to not engage in or tolerate acts of 



falsification, misrepresentation, or deception. Such acts of dishonesty include cheating or 

copying, plagiarizing, submitting another person’s work as one’s own, using Internet 

sources without citation, using online translators, fabricating field data or citations, 

ghosting (i.e., taking an exam for another student or having an exam taking for self), 

stealing examinations, tampering with the academic work of another student, facilitating 

other students’ acts of academic dishonesty, etc.  

 

Students charged with a breach of academic integrity will receive due process and, if the 



charge is found valid, academic sanctions may range, depending on the severity of the 

offense, from an F for the assignment to an F for the course.  

 

Cellular Phone Policy: 

All cellular telephones must be switched off before coming to class. The use of all mobile 

devices during class is prohibited. 



Special Concerns: 

If you have questions or problems, come to talk to me during my office hours. If you 

cannot make it at that time, see me by the end of class, and we will schedule an 

appointment.  

 

Students with disabilities who require special testing accommodations or other 

classroom modifications are encouraged to notify me and must notify the Office of 

Disability Resources and Services no later than the end of the first week of classes. 

Students may be asked to provide documentation of their disabilities to determine the 

appropriateness of their requests.  The Office of Disability Resources and Services is 

located in 216 William Pitt Union and is available by telephone (voice or TTY) at 412-

648-7890. 



Tu February 2 GOGOL. THE OVERCOAT. 

Th February 4 LERMONTOV. PRINCESS MARY. 

Week 6. 

Tu February 9 LERMONTOV. THE FATALIST. 



Th February 11 First Hour Exam and first Journal due. 

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