RUSS 440: Special Topics: Russian Drama, Prose or Poetry: The Gulag
The Gulag constituted one of the most notorious examples of the twentieth-century’s totalitarian evil. At the same time, it was subject to one of the most radical campaigns of misrepresentation and manipulation conceived by the Soviet propaganda and supported to a large extent by many cultural and intellectual elites of the West. From the Bolshevik Revolution to the fall of the Soviet Union, the only evidence of the Gulag available to the outside world, apart from Soviet propaganda, were the testimonies of witnesses and survivors. Their stories functioned as the only available history. Gulag literature, therefore, complicates the traditional distinctions between literature and history. By examining Gulag literature in its many different forms, including propaganda, short stories, novellas, memoirs, poetry, and drama, we will learn the history of the Soviet Gulag system; we will also address questions of authenticity, authority, and morality in the literary representation of trauma and past events.
Prerequisite: Any 300-level RUSS course