Russian Society and Culture

Lecture, Seminar
  • Course description

    To develop students’ competence:
    - to introduce students to the specific features of Russian society and culture, the patterns of its development, the main achievements in Russian culture and its major names, to discuss the role of Russian culture in world culture;
    - to develop the understanding of a different country’s culture and customs, the ability to analyse and assess the phenomena of Russian language and literature in the wider context of Russian history as well as Russian public and cultural life; to develop the ability to compare the processes of Russian culture with the processes of other societies and other cultures.
    The course also aims at developing the ability of critical thinking, independent work and learning.
  • Main themes

    1. The phenomenon of Russian culture, its specificity and significance. Peculiarities of the Russian nationality and the formation of the Russian state. The heritage of the Old Rus, development of Moscow state, the Romanov Empire, the Soviet Union, post-communist Russia.
    2. State symbols, national mythology and ideology, traditional and national festivals.
    3. Specificities of the Christian Russian cultural foundation. Features of Russian Orthodox church history, church hierarchy, religious art (church structure, its significance and symbolism; an icon and icon schools; ecclesiastical chant). Development of writings. Orthodox tradition and Old Believers. Other traditional Russian religions.
    4. Development of secular culture. Changes in the social order and creation of European cultural institutions in 17–19 c.: reforms of Peter the Great, cultural politics of Catherine II, features of the era of Alexander I of Russia, war of 1812, reforms of Alexander II. Traditional societal caste structure.
    5. Main trends of the development of art and architecture. Cultural achievements in the 19c. Russia (literature, art, music, theatre), famous artists, writers, composers; peculiarities of Russian philosophy; the emergence and role of the intelligentsia.
    6. 20 c. Russian history and culture: “The Silver Age”, the Bolshevik revolution, Stalinism, USSR in World War II; features of the Soviet society, culture and daily life; socialist realism; cult films; official and non-official culture; characters of jokes and anecdotes; Russian diaspora.
    7. Economy, culture, politics and media of the post-communist Russia. Peculiarities of the high and the popular culture. Russian culture outside Russia.
  • Learning outcomes

    Having completed the course, students will:
    • have the knowledge about the main periods of the Russian history and the trends in Russian cultural development in the context of European culture: they will be able to explain the key features of Russian culture, the specificity of Russian public and cultural life;
    • be able to analyse, interpret and critically assess Russian cultural phenomena, to compare Russian public and cultural phenomena with those of other cultures, to apply the context of public and historical affairs in analysing and interpreting Russian literary texts and the peculiarities of the Russian language;
    • be ready to develop their knowledge autonomously: to find, describe, organise materials on a given issue and to present it in writing as well as orally.
  • Teaching and learning methodology

    Lectures; problem-based learning, focus on history and culture, comparative analysis, demonstration; methods of active learning and teaching (brainstorming, group discussion); research methods (information search, preparing and delivering a presentation)
  • Assessment criteria and methods

    • Participation in seminars and discussions (20%):
    1. 2 points: student demonstrates good preparation, actively participates in discussions, answers questions, formulates problems and raises questions, comments on peers’ answers, provides critical comments;
    2. 1 point: student participates in discussions, answers questions when asked;
    3. 0 points: student demonstrates practically no participation or has missed more than 1/3 of the seminars.
    • Presentation on a chosen phenomenon of the Russian culture, an author, an artistic trend (30%):
    1. 3 points: a phenomenon of the Russian culture, an author, an artistic trend is analysed in the context of Russian history and the relevant European or world literature and culture, the presentation reflects the latest research data, is presented in an audience-friendly form and effective manner;
    2. 2 points: a phenomenon of the Russian culture, an author, an artistic trend is presented correctly and clearly, in an audience-friendly form and effective manner;
    3. 1 point: a phenomenon of the Russian culture, an author, an artistic trend is presented correctly and clearly.
    •  Written examination (2 open-ended questions) (50%):
    1. 5 points, if a student does not only answer the two examination questions in an exhaustive manner with no errors but also provides a critical account of the cultural and literary context; takes into consideration the general criteria of reasoning consistently, accurately and showing the ability to reflect the diversity of the approaches towards the issue under consideration;
    2. 4 points, if a student answers the two examination questions exhaustively and with no errors;
    3. 3 points, if a student answers both examination questions accurately with no major errors;
    4. 2 points, if a student answers the questions inexhaustively, with major errors;
    5. 1 point if a student answers only one question.
  • Required reading

    Compulsory reading
    No Author Year of publishing Title Publishing house or internet site
    1.  Michailova G., Šapovalova J., Brazauskienė J. 2005 Rusų civilizacija ir kultūra: istorija ir dabartis. Vilnius: VPU
    2.                Алдонина Р. 2003 Святыни России. Москва: Белый город
    3.                  2004 История России 9 – 17 вв.: Иллюстрированная энциклопедия. Москва: Олма Медиа Групп
    4.                  2003 История России: IX – XXI вв.: От Рюрика до Путина. Ростов-на-Дону: ИЦ «МарТ»
    5.                  2001 Русское искусство: Иллюстрированный словарь. Москва
    6.                Сарабьянов Д. 1981 Русская живопись XIX в. среди европейских школ. Москва: Советский художник
    7.                  2003 Очерки русской культуры XIX века. Москва: Изд-во Московского университета
    Recommended reading
    1. Лотман Ю. М. 1994 Беседы о русской культуре. Быт и традиции русского дворянства (XVIII-начало XIX века). С.-Петербург: Искусство-СПб
    2. Лихачев Д. С. 2000. Русская культура. Москва: Искусство
    3.   2000 Из истории русской культуры. Т. IV (XVIII – XIX века). Москва: Языки русской культуры 
    4. Заичкин И. А., Почкаев И. Н. 1992 Русская история. Популярный очерк IX – середина XVIII в. Москва: Мысль

Last updated: 25 August 2017

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