Stalin and the Devil: History and Religion in Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita
Imagine the Biblical story of the Passion, narrated by the Devil himself, to an audience of small-minded and terrified atheists on a hot summer evening during Stalin’s bloody purges. That is just the beginning of one of Russia’s favorite novels, Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. This seminar will examine the Stalin’s Moscow through the lens of that raucous and contradictory book. We will look closely at the political and cultural history of 1930s Moscow, and at the rich tradition of Russian Orthodoxy woven into Bulgakov’s tale.
Peter Thomas has been teaching Russian language and culture in the Russian Department at Lawrence University since 2006. Before coming to Lawrence, he taught courses in comparative literature, and in Russian language, culture, and film, at Northwestern University, Beloit College, and St. Olaf College. Since arriving at Lawrence, Thomas has received the Young Teacher Award (2013) and the Freshman Studies Teaching Award (2015). This is his seventh summer seminar at Bjorklunden.
Required text: “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov. Translated by Diana Burgin & Katherine Tieman O'Connor.