MEMS 391 - Art, Culture, and Literature in Old Russia
Fall 2020, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS)
Department: LSA History
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
Credit Exclusions:
No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in RUSSIAN 551.
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


This course provides an introduction to the culture of the Eastern Slavs from the ninth century until the seventeenth and also looks at the continued employment of elements drawn from that culture in post-enlightenment Russia. It requires no special historical or linguistic knowledge and is intended to be of interest to anyone curious about medieval and early-modern culture. While the primary emphasis will be on Old Russian literature, the course will also examine art, architecture, folklore, and other cultural forms. The course will help students to develop the analytical skills required for the examination of medieval and early-modern cultures (including basic tools of textual criticism and instrumentation to read symbolic languages very different from ours) and to develop an understanding of cultural premises radically different from those on which post-Enlightenment Europe has relied. The course will look at the East Slavs of Rus’ and Muscovy in comparison with the peoples around them and will also look at how post-Petrine Russia has turned again and again to “Old Russia” and, indeed, has, in some areas, shown remarkable continuity with that Old Russian past. Students will also develop skills in analytical writing, in treating both very specific, materials-based topics and broader, conceptual issues.All assigned materials will be available in English.

Course Requirements:

Three short papers (1,500 words each), and a final, longer paper (2,500-3,000 words).

Intended Audience:

Students interested in pre-modern Eastern Europe

This course welcomes entirely online participation. Section 001 is for students who are able to attend in-person class meetings. Students who are unable to return to campus or be present in person should register for section 002.

Class Format:

Students unable to participate in person will be offered the option of synchronous participation. Asynchronous access to lectures will be offered to accommodate potential health-related absences.

While it is anticipated that most students will participate on campus, it will be possible to participate online. The weekly lectures for this course will be recorded and made available asynchronously; it is possible that they will also be available through live streaming. Students who are unable to participate in person will have the option of a further, separate zoom meeting each week.

All grading for this course will be based on written assignments and student participation in informal discussions (for asynchronous learners, this will be during zoom meetings).

Students registered for Russian 551 will attend an additional section meeting.


MEMS 391 - Art, Culture, and Literature in Old Russia
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 4:00PM - 5:30PM
002 (LEC)
TuTh 4:00PM - 5:30PM

Textbooks/Other Materials

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Click the button below to view and buy textbooks for MEMS 391.001

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for MEMS 391 (UM login required)

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CourseProfile (Atlas)

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CourseProfile (Atlas)