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Russian Literature under Vladimir Putin: The Return of Political Engagement?


Admission requirements

Thorough knowledge of Russian


Has modern Russian literature really lost its relevance as an agent for social change and raising political awareness? Is the traditional idea of Russian literature’s engagement merely a Soviet relic cherished by a few hard-core communist writers? Ten-twelve years ago most critics would have answered in the affirmative pointing to the belated advance of Russian post-modernism and the success of such deeply ironic authors as Viktor Pelevin and Vladimir Sorokin.
In Putin-era Russia, however, things seem to have changed dramatically. Literature suddenly appears to remember its former status as leading art form by openly questioning the political status quo and by promoting the intelligentsia’s traditional values of integrity, sincerity and political resistance. Whether they try to revive the genre of “civic poetry” or take part in anti-Putin demonstrations, Russian authors seem to take seriously again the “old-fashioned” demand of political engagement.

Course objectives

The purpose of this course is twofold: first, to explore the entire spectrum of “politically” informed literature, from the “leftist” blank verse of Kirill Medvedev and the “liberal” historical prose of Liudmila Ulitskaia, to the “red-brown” stanza’s of nationalist poet Marina Strukova; second, to encourage students to reflect more broadly on the changes and the continuities in contemporary Russian literature, particularly on its social role in the new millennium

H3. Timetable


H3. Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • 2 papers each (30%)

  • Oral examination (30%)

  • Class performance (10%)


See Blackboard

Reading list

To be announced


Students should register through uSis. uSis.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs