Associate Professor of Russian Literature
Her scholarly publications include articles on Nabokov, the Bakhtin brothers, early Soviet film, and the aestheticization of historical trauma, primarily, culture of the Siege of Leningrad (1941-1944). She has also authored eight books of poetry and one book of prose in Russian. Three books of her poetry in English translation were published recently: This Lamentable City (Tupelo Press), Zoo in Winter (Melville House Press), Relocations (Zephyr Press).
Professor Barskova is currently working on a project entitled "The Ruin Screams: Poetics of the Spatial Representation During the Siege of Leningrad."
This course will use writing as a way to notice the natural world more closely. We will read American and Russian authors for whom being in nature and writing about nature led to a deeper understanding of their social conditions. We will consider a variety of narrative positions, including those of naturalists, hikers, tourists, mystics, activists, scientists, sportsmen, soldiers, prisoners, workers (firemen at Chernobyl Nuclear station, for example), explorers and others. We will try to understand how and why women and men of the last two centuries constructed nature as they did. Comparative assessments of the two cultures will inevitably emerge, although that is not our only focus. We want to examine (and develop) our own ability to think about our environment critically and responsibly. As our natural habitat grows increasingly fragile, we hope most of all to understand ourselves in it. We will read and write analytical and creative prose, and poetry, and will devote considerable attention in class to reviewing our written work.
Our course will combine development of skills in analytic close reading, creative writing and library research thru looking at the works of Russia's perhaps most mysterious and most influential writer of the 19th century (and beyond)--Nikolai Gogol. Traveling in his world of threatening mermaids and flying dumplings, we'll ask questions of Romantic authorship and nationalism, writing outside of your homeland and your language, the role that sexuality and gender play in creative work. We'll read, write, watch and discuss film adaptations, and visit local museums/libraries/archives.
Our course will attempt to create a map of contemporary Russian culture and literature, exploring its institutions, major players and genres, as well as the modes of its interaction with other discourses and media. We will read novels and essays, poetry and drama; we will also contemplate the role of translation and criticism in the development of the Russian literary languages and strategies of today. The main focus will be on the relationship between the official "propaganda" culture and its Others: opposition within and without, cultural conflict with Ukraine, reactions to the Putin's empire in the West.
Everyone who has read and written may know a desire to respond creatively to a work of art. But what kind of response may be urged by the work of the "greatest" writer who ever lived: William Shakespeare? Does one wish to mimic or to challenge? What does it mean to re-make Shakespeare? How can a modern work of art absorb something that different and that huge? This course will explore works of Shakespeare as the source of inspiration for arts verbal and visual, perfomative and rhetorical. We will read closely four plays from the latter half of Shakespeare's career and analyze artistic reactions to these texts in: modern world theater, film, fiction, and poetry, together with other selected visual representations of Shakespearean characters and scenes. Topics of discussion will include: reading, re-reading, adaptation and translation; the historical and cultural conditions of reception and canon-making; modern theoretical responses (psychoanalytic, postcolonial); as well as individual battles with and seductions by the Bard. There will be regular written responses expected--critical and perhaps creative--together with two formal analytic essays and one longer, developed paper or project.