University of Wisconsin–Madison

Featured Courses

Below is a list of new or revised courses being offered in spring 2017 which may be of interest to students in REECAS. Information on fall 2017 featured courses will be coming soon.

For a full list of REECAS courses, please check out the links to the right.

SLAVIC 405/LITTRANS 205/GEN&WS 205 - Women in Russian Literature

Dr. Jennifer Tishler
MWF 11:00-11:50 AM
4 Credits (405); 3 Credits (205)

View in course catalog

The focus of this course will be gender dynamics, family, women’s fates and roles in Russian history, and the portrayal of women, first in literature written by men in the nineteenth-century canon, and then primarily by women writers in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian literature. We will examine Russian prose and poetry spanning two centuries, from fiction to memoir to political tracts, from the point of view of gender roles and portrayals, sex, family, and career in a society that went through radical changes. In class discussions, we will explore issues such as the depiction of “ideal” Russian and Soviet women, how political and social turmoil have affected their roles and relationships, and female characters who are portrayed as transgressors of societal norms.

*Students enrolled in Slavic 405 will have a discussion section each month on Tuesdays at 11:00 am

Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will demonstrate knowledge of major works of Russian literature written by and about women.
  2. Students will demonstrate an awareness of the cultural/historical significance of these works given the contexts in which they were written.
  3. Students will develop critical-reading and writing skills related to the analysis of texts and particularly to issues of gender dynamics in Russia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

SLAVIC/GEOG/HISTORY/POLI SCI 253 - Russia: An Interdisciplinary Survey

Prof. Manon van de Water
TR 1:00-2:15 PM
4 credits

View in course catalog

This course is designed as an interdisciplinary introduction to Russian civilization, drawing on contributions by over a dozen faculty members from ten departments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as visiting lecturers. The course aims to impart a basic knowledge of Russian history, literature, politics, religion, philosophy, art, geography, economy, cinema, theatre, and foreign affairs, to provide students with the tools to begin to grasp the complex issues that Russian culture and society present us. By the end of the semester, students will be familiar with the major issues, approaches, and topics of disagreement among Russian area specialists, and have a solid understanding of Russian culture, history, geography, and politics.

Breadth: Humanities or Social Science
Level: Elementary
Fulfills: REECAS Group I (Interdisciplinary Survey)
Pre-Requisites: Open to freshmen

LITTRANS 207 - Slavic Science Fiction Through Literature and Film

Prof. David Danaher
MWF 12:05-12:55 PM
3 credits

View in course catalog

In the United States, Science Fiction (SF) is typically thought of as a quintessentially American (or American-British) genre. This course explores the rich tradition of Slavic contributions to SF. We will survey major writers and their works in the Czech, Polish, and Russian contexts, most of which are little known in the US but are nonetheless, as we will see, fundamental to the genre. We will read these works as both anchored in their particular cultural-historical circumstances and also for their contribution to the development of SF as a world genre. In this regard, SF is perhaps the dominant contemporary genre for sociocultural commentary and critique aimed at reimagining the world in which we live, and Slavic SF texts have played a defining role in establishing SF as such. Since the rise of film coincides with the rise of modern SF and since the intertextual dimension in SF literature is particularly strong, we will also compare and contrast the literary works with, where available, their film adaptations. (Note that films will be digitized for the course and assigned as homework while class-time will be devoted to discussion and analysis.)

Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will demonstrate knowledge of major works of science fiction in the Slavic context.
  2. Students will demonstrate an awareness of the cultural/historical significance of these works given the contexts in which they were written.
  3. Students will develop critical-reading skills related to the analysis of texts (literature and film) and particularly to the genre of science fiction.

Breadth: Literature
Level: Elementary
Fulfills: REECAS Group III (Literature & Arts)
Pre-Requisites: None

POLI SCI 534 - Socialism and Transitions to the Market

Prof. Scott Gehlbach
TR 9:30-10:45 AM
3-4 credits

View in course catalog

“Socialism and Transitions to the Market” provides an overview of state socialism, or “communism”—the political and economic system that governed much of the world’s population from 1945 to 1989—and the transition from that system to alternative modes of governance. The course emphasizes the experience of Eastern Europe and the (former) Soviet Union, where communism as a system has disappeared most completely, but many of the lessons of transition apply also to China, Vietnam, North Korea, and Cuba. A non-trivial portion of the course covers the nature of communism, as both the tasks and obstacles of transition are determined in part by the character of the previous system. However, the bulk of the material addresses postcommunist policies, institutions, and outcomes.

Breadth: Social Science
Level: Advanced
Fulfills: REECAS Group II (History & Social Sciences)
Pre-Requisites:  POLI SCI 106 or consent of instructor (for REECAS students)

LITTRANS 241/SLAVIC 242 – Literatures and Cultures of Eastern Europe: Cultures of Dissent in East Central Europe: Censorship and the Politics of Resistance

Dr. Dijana Mitrovic
TR 2:30-3:45 PM
3 credits

View in course catalog

In this class we will study the cultures of Eastern and Central Europe through works of literature, theater, and film produced between the end of WWII and the fall of the Berlin Wall (1945-1989). Special focus will be placed on the strategies political regimes were employing to control artistic production during the Cold War era, as well as the subversive techniques of resistance that artists and authors used in return. Apart from learning about the region of the time, the class material will help us recognize/resist various forms of (self)censorship in general, thus making us better scholars, artists, and citizens of the world.

Breadth: Literature
Level: Elementary
Fulfills: REECAS Group III (Literature & Arts)
Pre-Requisites: Open to freshmen

POLI SCI 659 - Politics and Society: Contemporary Eastern Europe

Dr. Boriana Nikolova
MW 2:30-3:45 PM
3-4 credits

View in course catalog

When communism ended peacefully in Eastern Europe in 1989, the future suddenly looked hopeful again in a region that had gotten quite accustomed to perpetual economic and political stagnation. Propelled by a weakened and inward looking Russia to the East and a European Union willing to provide not only advice and money but full membership, the region was embarking on the road to democracy in the most favorable of environments. What could possibly go wrong? A lot apparently, considering that by the early 2000’s Eastern Europe had become one of the regions of the world most skeptical about the merits of democracy. Today even some of the countries that once appeared best positioned to create well-functioning democracies seem to be slipping back.

What does the East European experience teach us about how we think about democracy and about creating and sustaining accountable governments? What were the main characteristics of the political and economic systems of the countries in the region during communism and how did they affect their post-communist trajectories? How do the East European transitions from a state-run to a market economy shine light on competing notions of equality, justice, and fairness? What do communist nostalgia and the way the communist past is remembered tell us about the present and the future of the democratic project in Eastern Europe? These are some of the questions that we will be addressing by looking at a variety of sources including memoirs, ethnography, and film.

Breadth: Social Science
Level: Intermediate or Advanced
Fulfills: REECAS Group II (History & Social Sciences)
Pre-Requisites: Junior standing; POLI SCI 106 or 186; or consent of instructor