This seminar will explore the medically precise descriptions and farcical humor that shape the
work of Anton Chekhov. We will trace his focus on the minutia of everyday life to Monty Python
skits, “Seinfeld” and “The Office.” We will also follow themes in his writing, such as the nature of
faith or responsibility or love; the hazards of education or art; and the modern economy’s collision
with the family and the environment. Readings will include short stories, parts of novels, plays,
travel literature and correspondence. Viewings will include films based on Chekhov, as well as
contemporary theatrical productions.
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 10th summer seminar at Björklunden.
Required Readings: Anton Chekhov’s Selected Stories, ed. Cathy Popkin. 978-0393925302
Chekhov: Four Essential Plays, trans. Michael Henry Heim. 978-0375761348
Strongly Recommended Reading: Chekhov: The Complete Short Novels, trans. Pevear and
Volokhonsky. 978-1400032921 • Chekhov: A Life in Letters, ed. Rosamund Bartlett.
978-0140449228 • Sakhalin Island, Anton Chekhov, trans. Brian Reeve. 978-1847492913 or
978-1847492913 (same translation, different price!)
Recommended background reading: Anton Chekhov: A Life, Donald Rayfield. 978-0810117952
Chekhov: Scenes From a Life, Rosamund Bartlett. 978-0743230759