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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


SL Nationalism: Literature and Nationalism in Russia and Eastern Europe

SL Nationalism: Literature and Nationalism in Russia and Eastern Europe

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 Russian, Ukrainian and/or Polish. 
There will normally be a maximum capacity of 14 for this module.

Preliminary reading:
Before the term begins, please read:
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of 
    Nationalism. London ; New York: Verso, 1991.
Deutsch, Karl. Nationalism and Social Communication. Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. 
    Press, 1966. [Chapters 3 and 4 only]
Hroch, Miroslav. Social Preconditions of National Revival in Europe. New York: 
    Columbia University Press, 2000. [Part 1]
Suny, R. G. et al. Intellectuals and the Articulation of the Nation. Ann Arbor: 
    University of Michigan Press, 1999. [pp. 1-78, 383-418]


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