Sentimentalism & Romanticism (Literary Movements I)                 


Russ./CLST2420                                                                             H. Goscilo

Monday 3-5:25                                                                                       Tel. 45908

CL 1221                                                                                                Office hours: TH 3-4





Course Content and Goals:


This course contextualizes Russian literature of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century in the Western European cultural movements conventionally labeled Sentimentalism and and Romanticism.  It traces both the synchronic commonality of, and diachronic shifts in, sensibility across geographical boundaries from approximately the 1740s to 1840.  The focus falls on genres and literary modes that define the Sentimentalist and Romanticist canon–primarily in Russia, and secondarily in England, France, and Germany.

Sessions on Sentimentalism explore the confessional and epistolary modes, travel literature, and the narrative of love/seduction.  The Gothic as the “underbelly” or the unsaid of Sentimentalism facilitates a transition to the polarization in values and stylistics that marks Romanticism.   Meetings devoted to Romanticism emphasize the Romantic Hero,  Nature/Exoticism, psychology and metaphysics, and the central role of the Imagination.  By semester’s end students should have acquired some taxonomical/conceptual sophistication: i.e., they should  have a firm grasp on what informs historical and formalist usage of the contentious rubrics Sentimental and Romantic.


Course Requirements:


Be warned at the outset that this course requires MASSIVE reading, which may present

difficulties for those unfamiliar with the majority of texts assigned for the course.  The course combines lecture and discussion, and those students incapable of REGULARLY participating in discussion should NOT remain enrolled in the course.  I shall assume that students have completed the readings for each session and that they are prepared to discuss them on an appropriate critical level .


            Most sessions will observe the following format, with grade percentages distributed as outlined below:


short quiz on the readings (15% of grade)

one-page paper on an aspect of the readings (topic specified) (15% of grade)

                        brief lecture and outline of issues to be addressed during the class meeting (HG)

                                    discussion (30% of grade)

                        one 15-minute and one 30-minute class presentation by students on key aspects

                           of a work assigned for that session (15% of grade)

                       20-page paper on a topic to be determined in consultation with me (25% of grade)

Since this course in its present incarnation is being offered for the first time, I find it difficult to predict how unrealistic the proposed reading schedule may be.  I therefore have left the last two meetings “blank,” in case we need them to catch up on readings and classwork. 

Note that we shall have no class the first Monday in September, but that I expect students to read throughout that week and the preceding one, so as to be able to discuss Pamela, “Bednaia Liza,” and Povesti Belkina on September 11th.




Both required primary texts and selected critical studies are on reserve in Hillman Library.  Students are urged to peruse these.  I have not ordered any Russian texts for the course because the reading list apart from them is formidably large, and I assume that Slavists own most of the Russian works required for the course.  I have placed on reserve one copy of most assigned Russian texts (exceptions are short works available in multiple copies in the library).  If, however, you wish to purchase the required Russian readings, contact Russian House, Ltd. (tel. 212-685-1010; Email <>).  I recommend against ordering from Kamkin, which in its inefficiency and unreliability nostalgically evokes Soviet “service.”

The critical literature (both Russian and Western) on the Russian texts in question is voluminous, and the highly selective suggestions for critical reading in the syllabus lightly touch  the tip of a titanic iceberg.  My expectation (or, rather, forlorn hope) is that these secondary materials will stimulate you to investigate other critical items referred to or listed in them.

Although class proceedings move more smoothly if everyone has the same edition, given the number of pages we shall be reading, I have no objection to people’s using different editions of any or all relevant texts. 


Required readings [R = on reserve]:


            Samuel Richardson, Pamela

Laurence Sterne, Sentimental Journey

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Julie, or the New Heloïse

Aleksandr Radishchev, Puteshestvie iz Peterburga v Moskvu/Journey from St. Petersburg

to Moscow [R]

Nikolai Karamzin, Pis’ma rossiiskogo puteshestvennika/Letters of a Russian Traveler

                                                                                                    (selections) [R]

                                        “Bednaia Liza”/”Poor Liza” [R]

Aleksandr Pushkin, Povesti Belkina/Belkin’s Tales


Matthew Lewis, The Monk

Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (plus film)

E.T.A. Hoffmann, “The Golden Pot,” “The Sandman”

Aleksandr Pushkin, “Pikovaia dama”/“The Queen of Spades” (plus video of opera)

M. Lermontov, Vadim (plus film!) [R]

Nikolai Gogol’, “Portret”/“The Portrait” [R]

            Vladimir Odoevskii, “Sil’fida”/”The Sylph” [R]

Fedor Dostoevskii, Khoziaika/The Landlady  [R]

            Benjamin Constant, Adolphe

Wilhelm Goethe, Sufferings of Young Werther

René de Chateaubriand, Atala/René

George Byron, “The Giaour,” “Bride of Abydos” [R]

                      Aleksandr Pushkin, “Kavkazskii plennik”

        Evgenii Onegin/Eugene Onegin (plus video of opera) [R]

Mikhail Lermontov, “Mtsyri” [R]

                                           Geroi nashego vremeni (plus film) [R]





Tentative Syllabus (subject to modification):


First Session (August 28) :


Practical matters (syllabi, exchange of info., etc.)

            Lecture on Neoclassicism and Sentimentalism (HG)


Second Session, in theory (September 4): HOLIDAY


Second Session, in practice  (September 11):

Sentimentalist tales of attempted seduction: epistolary form and first-person narrative; democracy; moralism; purity of heart and soul; nature, etc.


             Richardson, Pamela   

Karamzin, “Bednaia Liza”

Pushkin, Povesti Belkina


On Russian Sentimentalism: I.R. Titunik, “Russian Sentimentalist Rhetoric of Fiction.”  Semiosis: Semiotics and the History of Culture.  Eds. Morris Halle et al. (Michigan Slavic Contributions, 1994) 10: 228-39 [R]

        Gitta Hammarberg, “The Feminine Chronotope and Sentimentalist Canon Formation,” Literature, Lives, and Legality in Catherine’s Russia (Nottingham: Astra Press, 1994): 103-120 [R]


On Karamzin: V.N. Toporov,“Bednaia Liza” Karamzina (Moscow: RGGU, 1995) [R]


           Gitta Hammarberg, From the Idyll to the Novel: Karamzin’s Sentimentalist Prose (Cambridge UP, 1991) [R]


On Pushkin:   David M. Bethea & Sergei Davydov, “Pushkin’s Saturnine Cupid: the Poetics of Parody in The Tales of Belkin,” PMLA 96.1 (January 1981): 8-21

          Sergei Davydov, “Pushkin’s Merry Undertaking and ‘The Coffinmaker,” Slavic Review 44.1 (1985): 30-48

Third Session (September 18):

Sentimentalist travel: inner and outer journeys; education of the heart and mind; cultural information versus political galvanization; primacy of the synthesizing self


Sterne, Sentimental Journey

Karamzin, Pis’ma rossiiskogo puteshestvennika

Radishchev, Puteshestvie iz Peterburga v Moskvu


On Karamzin: Iurii Lotman, Sotvorenie Karamzina (Moscow 1987) [R]

                      Roger Anderson, “Karamzin’s Letters of a Russian Traveller: An Education in Western Sentimentalism.”  Essays on Karamzin.  Ed. J.L. Black (The Hague: Mouton, 1975): 22-39 [R]


Fourth Session (September 25):

Sentimentalist  travel (cont.)

Epistolary virtue; incarnated ideals; nature


Rousseau, Julie, or the New Heloïse


Fifth Session (October 2):

The Gothic as the period’s unsaid/repressed


Lewis, The Monk


Sixth Session (October 9):

Gothic (cont.)


Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame   

            Karamzin, “Ostrov Borngol’m”

Lermontov, Vadim


On Karamzin: Hammarberg, From the Idyll..: 182-202


On Lermontov: Helena Goscilo, Foreword to English translation of Vadim (Ardis, 1984): 9-32



Seventh Session (October 16):

Gothic or Romantic?  Imagination, vision, status of reality, problematics of verification; the Künstlernovelle and the fantastic


Pushkin, “Pikovaia dama”

            Hoffmann, “The Golden Pot,” “The Sandman”

Odoevskii, “Sil’fida”

            Gogol’, “Portret”


Lilian Furst, Romanticism (Methuen, 1969)–77pp. [R]

Lilian Furst, Romanticism in Perspective (Macmillan, 1969)


On Pushkin, Caryl Emerson, “‘The Queen of Spades’ and the Open End.” Puskin Today. Ed. David M. Bethea (Indiana UP, 1993): 31-37 [R]


On Odoevskii, Neil Cornwell, Life, Times and Milieu of V.F. Odoevsky (Athlone P, 1986) [R]


On Gogol’,  Robert Louis Jackson, “Gogol’s ‘The Portrait....’” Essays on Gogol.  Ed. Susanne Fusso & Priscilla Meyer (Northwestern UP, 1992): 63-74 [R]

                    Robert Maguire, Exploring Gogol (Stanford UP, 1994): 135-54 [R]


Eighth Session (October 23):

Imagination, etc. (cont.)


Dostoevskii, Khoziaika [R]


Ninth Session (October 30):

The Ego, Love, Anatomy of Passion


Constant, Adolphe

            Pushkin, Evgenii Onegin


On Pushkin, Iurii Lotman, Roman A.S. Pushkina “Evgenii Onegin”--various editions, the latest included in Iu. M. Lotman, Pushkin (St. Petersburg: “Iskusstvo,” 1995): 393-762 [R]

                    Sergei Bocharov, Poetika Pushkina (Moscow, 1974): 26-104 [R]

         Sona Hoisington, Russian Views of Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin” (Indiana UP, 1988)


                    J. Douglas Clayton, Ice and Flame: Aleksandr Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin.” U of Toronto P, 1985 (NOT IN HILLMAN)

                    Monika Greenleaf, Pushkin and Romantic Fashion: Fragment, Elegy, Orient,

Irony (Stanford UP, 1994): 205-286 [R]


Tenth Session (November 6):


Pushkin, Evgenii Onegin (cont.)


Eleventh Session (November 13):

The Ego (cont.): the sublime, self-referentiality and inscription of taxonomical complexities


Goethe, Sufferings of Young Werther


Twelfth Session (November 20):

Alienation and exoticism


Byron, “The Giaour,” “Bride of Abydos”

Chateaubriand, Atala/René

Pushkin, “Kavkazskii plennik”

Lermontov, “Mtsyri”


On Pushkin, V.M. Zhirmunskii, Bairon i Pushkin (Leningrad: 1924 and 1978) [R]

                    G.I. Kusov, ed.  Pushkin i Kavkaz (1999) (NOT IN HILLMAN)

                    Stephanie Sandler, Distant Pleasures (Stanford UP, 1989) [R]

                    Luc Beaudoin, Resetting the Margins: Russian Romantic Verse Tales and the Idealized Woman (NY: Peter Lang, 1997) [R]

                    Susan Layton, Russian Literature and Empire (Cambridge UP, 1994) [R]

                    Paul M. Austin, The Exotic Prisoner in Russian Romanticism (NY: Peter Lang, 1997) [R]


On Lermontov, Vladimir Golstein, Lermontov’s Narratives of Heroism (Northwestern UP, 1998):154-85 [R]


Thirteenth Session (November 27):

Late Romanticism; cycle as surrogate for novel, sewing fragments into a psychological quilt; irony (links with Heine)


Lermontov, Geroi nashego vremeni


On Lermontov, S. Durylin, “Geroi nashego vremeni” M.Iu. Lermontova (Moscow, 1986) [R]

                         Emma Gershtein, Roman “Geroi nashego vremeni” M.Iu. Lermontova  (Moscow, 1997) (NOT IN HILLMAN)

                         Helena Goscilo, From Dissolution to Synthesis: The Use of Genre in M. Lermontov’s Prose.  PhD Dissertation, Indiana University, 1976 (chapter on Gnv)


Fourteenth Session (December 4):

Catch-up session, if necessary


***Long paper due by noon, to be placed in my mailbox.  No late papers accepted***


Fifteenth Session (December 11):

Reprise of taxonomical issues: criticism and theory, texts to be finalized, based on developments in the course of the semester.