Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The student knows the core features (contents, methods and instruments) necessary for the in-depth analysis of Russian culture and literature; s/he is able to apply this knowledge when tackling a range of semiotically challenging texts; s/he is able to acquire higher-level cultural and literary knowledge and competences independently, and to apply them to a wide range of novel texts.

Course contents

The aim of the course is to trace some trends in contemporary Russian literature, using as a sample a number of recent works by a famous writer Vladimir Sorokin. The course is divided into two parts connected to each other.

The first part is based on the work with a short novel День опричника (Day of the oprichnik), its sequel Сахарный Кремль (The Sugar Kremlin) and, in particular, a fragmentary novel Теллурия (Tellurija); the latter can be considered a sort of "Sorokin style encyclopedia".The texts will be addressed in their original language; this will allow students not only to identify the theoretical structure and the pathos of Sorokin's works, but also to work with the writer's artistic language, appreciating its various characteristics.These make Sorokin's experimental style immediately identifiable in Russian literature of the last 40 years. Each chapter of Сахарный Кремль and Теллурия comprises a short narrative with its own plot and its own genre; the stories "range from an anecdote to a love story, from a philosophical debate to a thriller, from an encyclopedic voice to a propaganda pamphlet, from a fairy tale to an epistle and an essay" (D. Possamai). The chapters thus offer at least two levels of reading and analysis: an immediate one, linked to the overall architecture of the novel and a deeper one, interwoven with quotations and references to genres and works of Russian and world literature. The reading and analysis of Sorokin's works will therefore be integrated with an excursus into the history of Russia and Russian literature.

The second part analyzes the framework of contemporary Russian literature, focusing on the changing multiplicity of the relationship between the author, the reader and the text. The phenomenon of Russian postmodernism will be investigated in its historical development and the notions of alternate history / futurology, negative utopia, “magical historicism” (term coined by A. Etkind) will be addressed. During the lectures scientific articles and critical essays of some Italian, Russian and other scholars will be examined in an attempt to highlight the return to "literaturocentrism", a salient feature of contemporary Russian culture.


Literary texts (in Russian, whatever edition you will find):

1. Сорокин В. День опричника.

2. Сорокин В. Сахарный Кремль.

3. Сорокин В. Теллурия.


Literary theory:

In italian:

  • D. Possamai, Al crocevia dei due millenni. Viaggio nella letteratura russa contemporanea, Padova 2018.

  • D. Possamai, Che cos'è il postmodernismo russo? Cinque percorsi interpretativi, Bologna 2000

  • M. Caramitti, Letteratura russa contemporanea. La scrittura come resistenza, Roma 2010

In Russian:

  • «Это просто буквы на бумаге…» Владимир Сорокин: после литературы, Москва, Новое литературное обозрение, 2018 (capitoli da concordare)

  • Липовецкий М., Эткинд А., Возвращение тритона: Советская катастрофа и постсоветский роман, Новое литературное обозрение, 2008,6, 174- 206. https://magazines.gorky.media/nlo/2008/6/mark-lipoveczkij-8212-aleksandr-etkind-vozvrashhenie-tritona-sovetskaya-katastrofa-i-postsovetskij-roman.html

  • Лобин А.М., Авторские концепции российской истории в русской литературе XXI века. Ульяновск, 2015 (capitoli da concordare) http://venec.ulstu.ru/lib/disk/2016/48.pdf

  • Лобин А.М., Концепция истории В. Сорокина и ее художественная репрезентация в повести "День опричника", Известия Саратовского университета. Новая серия. Серия: Филология. Журналистика, 2017, 17 (1), 109-113. https://www.elibrary.ru/download/elibrary_29070503_81004311.pdf

  • Лукашёнок И. Д., Антиутопия как социокультурный феномен начала XXI века, Ярославский педагогический вестник, 2010, 4, Том I (Гуманитарные науки),286-288. https://cyberleninka.ru/article/n/antiutopiya-kak-sotsiokulturnyy-fenomen-nachala-xxi-veka/viewer

  • Фунтова Д.А., Ценностные особенности эвтопии на примере романа В. Сорокина "Теллурия", Челябинский гуманитарий, 2017, (1) 38, 53-59. https://www.elibrary.ru/download/elibrary_29289453_85927560.pdf

  • Чанцев А., Фабрика антиутопий: дистопический дискурс в российской литературе середины 2000-х, Новое литературное обозрение, 2007, 86,269-301. https://magazines.gorky.media/nlo/2007/4/fabrika-antiutopij.html

  • Щербенок А. В., Сорокин, травма и русская история, Вестник Пермского университета. Российская и зарубежная филология, 2012, 1 (17), 210-2014

  • Эткинд А.М., Новый историзм, русская версия, Новое литературное обозрение, 2001, 47, 7-41. https://magazines.gorky.media/nlo/2001/1/novyj-istorizm-russkaya-versiya.html


  • "Насилие над человеком - это феномен, который меня всегда притягивал..." https://modernlib.net/books/sorokin_vladimir_georgievich/intervyu_tatyani_voskovskoy_s_vladimirom_sorokinim/read_1
  • "Опричнина - очень русское явление..." https://graniru.org/Culture/Literature/m.110108.html
  • "Гвоздь в голове..." https://www.corpus.ru/press/the-nail-in-the-head-sorokin-tellurija.htm
  • "Постсоветский гротеск уже стал сильнее литературы..." https://esquire.ru/hero/9562-sorokin/#part0

Teaching methods

The course will offer methodological instruments indispensable for the analysis of literary texts, critical essays, scientific papers, regarding the cultural and hitorical context on which a given text was created.

The student's presence at the lectures must be no less than 70%. The lectures are frontal.

Assessment methods

The exam is oral and its aim is to evaluate the theoretic knowledge by the student, to assess the successful assimilation of the information given during the lectures and discussions, and to understand his degree of orientation in the critical literature and his capacity to analize a literary text.

The ECTS grading scale is used:

A [≈ 30/30 – 30/30 e lode]: outstanding performance with only minor errors;

B [≈ 27/30 – 29/30]: above the average standard but with some errors;

C [≈ 24/30 – 26/30]: generally sound work with a number of notable errors;

D [≈ 21/30 – 23/30]: fair but with significant shortcomings;

E [≈ 18/30 – 20/30]: performance meets the minimum criteria;

F [≈ 15/30 – 17/30]: Fail – some more work required before the credit can be awarded;

FX [≈ 0/30 – 14/30]: Fail – considerable further work is required.

Teaching tools

Copies and materials stored on Virtuale platform

Office hours

See the website of Dmitry Novokhatskiy