Memories of Soviet Life and Death: Svetlana Alexievich’s Secondhand Time
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This seminar will explore the origins of today’s Russia, the Russia of Putin, by immersing itself in the history and culture of Gorbachev’s collapsing Soviet Union, as well as the society that emerged it its wake. Participants will read memories, interviews, and works of literature devoted to the experience of that catastrophe, and will have opportunities to watch films and listen to music of the time. The center of the seminar will be 2015 Nobel-prize winning Svetlana Alexievich’s Secondhand Time, a controversial and enigmatic work that combines journalism with novelistic orchestration.
Required Reading: Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich, translated by Bela Sayevich. Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2017. ISBN: 978-0399588822
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 eighth summer seminar at Bjorklunden.