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CODE 104355
SEMESTER 1° Semester


This 36-hour (six-credit) course is designed for students in the TTMI program at the Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures. The course will be taught in person during the first semester (3 hours per week) .

N.B. This is NOT the required course for students in the LCM or Lettere programs which is longer.




Our first-year course introduces students to Russian literature and culture from its medieval origins to the mid 1800s; in the second year, students focus more specifically on problems of literary style and evolution by examining texts from the 19th and 20th centuries that are linked by a particular theme; students who take the third-year course will go still more deeply into the literature and culture of a more specific historical period (such as the first half of the 20th century or The Thaw).


This course aims to provide students (1) familiarity with some of important 19th-century Russian writers; (2) thorough knowledge of some of their important works; (3) the basic tools of literary analysis; (4) general knowledge of the main cultural figures and events from the period in question.




This course will be conducted in person. In the case of problems such as pandemics or metereological alerts, we will meet online via Teams. Moreover, if available, we will take advantage of opportunities for streaming and/or recording. The code for the Team will be available on Aulaweb together with details, updates, materials, and announcements. In order to keep pace with the course, it is necessary to sign up on Aulaweb.

Students with certification of learning or other disabilities should inform the instructor (who is also the Departmental contact for the Inclusion of Students with Learning and Other Disabilities) in order to discuss possible accommodations.



In this course we will read and analyze various texts from the 19th and early 20th centuries, when Russian literature became internationally known. We will examine problems relating to the struggles of various literary characters who clash against the limits imposed upon them by the society of their time and its social practices. Of particular interest are themes such as: arranged marriage; the relative weight of social estates and official ranks, together with the advantages of wealth, social connection, education and gender; notions of space (the ballroom and the battlefield, Russia, Europe and the world); materiality and spirituality; obsession and crime; power and violence. We begin with the social problematics of the “svetskaja povest’” (society tale) and women’s writing, read the texts of Neelova, Rostopčina, Gan, Tjut’čev, Tolstoj, Leskov, Dostoevskij, and conclude with Čechov and Bunin.


N.B. This reading is not “recommended”, but mandatory!

The texts required for this course, as will be detailed on Aulaweb, are available in e-format (pdfs on Aulaweb) or in hard copies that can be found in the copy shop (NonSoloCopie on via Balbi), in libraries, in the Bozzi bookstore (via S. Siro, 28/r, off via Cairoli, 010.246.1718) or other bookstores, or elsewhere.

Obviously, students able to read the texts in Russian are encouraged to do so, while those who manage to look only at a few passages in the original and compare them with the translated versions will find details useful both for their studies of literature and of the Russian language. Precise instructions regarding the specific editions of the original text to be used for this course will be furnished on Aulaweb.

For alterations and details during the semester, see Aulaweb.

Riasanovsky, The History of Russia (selected pages)

Neelova, Leinard and Termilija (Лейнард и Термилия, 1784)

Rostopčina, Rank and Money (Чины и деньги, 1838)

Gan, The Ideal (Идеал, 1837)

Tjut’čev, “Silentium!” (1830)

Tolstoj, Sevastopol Stories (Севастопольские рассказы, 1855-56)

Leskov, “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” (Леди Макбет Мценского уезда, 1864)

Dostoevskij, “The Meek One” (Кроткая, 1876)

Čechov, The Little Trilogy (1898): “The Man in the Case” (Человек в футляре), “Gooseberries” (Крыжовник), “On Love” (О любви)

Bunin, “The Man from San Francisco” (Господин из Сан Франциско, 1915)

ADDITIONAL READING: For those interested in specific periods and authors, we recommend the following literary histories: Storia della civiltà letteraria russa, vol. 2 (UTET, 1997); Ettore Lo Gatto, “Profilo della letteratura russa dalle origini a Solzenicyn” (Mondadori, 1975); and others. Please ask the instructor for specific recommendations in English.

N.B. While the quality of the information found in these volumes greatly surpasses that found easily online, these texts are not required. Since this course aims to develop students’ capacities to interact directly with the texts in question, uncovering information about them found in other sources is less important than your own individual involvement in the process of reading and reflection.


Exam Board



LAURA SALMON (Substitute)



The week of 3 October 2022.



Oral exam at the end of the course and in three later exam periods. The exam consists of a conversation that lasts roughly 30 minutes.

There will also be 2 or 3 assignments over the course of the semester. In particular, students will be responsible for preparing specific tests for discussion in class.

To sign up for the exam, use the unige site. There will be exams in Jan/Feb 2023, Jun/Jul 2023, Sept 2023, and Jan/Feb 2024. No additional exams are planned, so please pay attention to the exam calendar and PLAN accordingly for your specific deadlines regarding travel (including Erasmus) or scholarships.

This program “expires” in February 2023. Students who have not passed the entire exam by that time will be examined on the course program for 2023-24.


The exam may be taken in Russian, Italian, or English, at the student’s discretion. The exam will test whether or not students have actually (and recently) read the literary texts on the syllabus and will evaluate students’ ability to offer a critical interpretation of these. The quality of the students’ self-expression in presenting their ideas and their correct use of relevant scholarly terms will figure into the grade.


Exam schedule

Data appello Orario Luogo Degree type Note
20/01/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale
10/02/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale
15/06/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale
19/06/2023 15:00 GENOVA Orale
17/07/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale
13/09/2023 09:00 GENOVA Orale
28/09/2023 14:30 GENOVA Orale


Attendance is strongly recommended since the course is based on the individual analysis of the texts, on the assignments, and on the discussions held in class. As a result, those who do not attend regularly or who do not complete the assignments may have difficulty passing the exam. Having read the texts on the syllabus once upon a time is not sufficient for this exam.