A Russian Carnival of the Animals (MLR2023)

StaffProfessor Katharine Hodgson - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The central aims of the module are to present you with a variety of texts in which animals play an important role, and to introduce you to ideas about the way animals function within the context of Russian culture. You will be supported in developing your close-reading and analytical skills in exploring how animals have been understood as allegorical stand-ins for humans or as creatures who are entirely ‘other’. You will compare the texts to ascertain how representations of animals and their relationship with the human world may have changed over time, and to find out whether animals are represented differently in different kinds of text (folklore, writing for children, ‘high’ literature). Carefully selected secondary literature will introduce you to critical thinking about animals and culture, and you will gain experience in applying this reading to enhance your understanding and appreciation of the texts.

The module will foster transferable skills such as group work (preparing for and delivering group seminar presentations) as well as producing written work which will help you practise tasks such as analysing text and evaluating critical secondary literature relating to texts you have studied.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Identify the variety of ways in which animals are represented in Russian writing and compare the representation of animals in different types of text, e.g. folktales, children’s literature, ‘high’ literature.
  • 2. Relate the way the texts portray animals (and, where relevant, by implication, humans) to the historical or social context in which they were written.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Critically evaluate ideas and interpretations put forward in relevant secondary literature.
  • 4. Develop, present, and defend a detailed argument, in both written and oral forms, with some guidance from the course lecturer

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Undertake independent learning activities with a measure of autonomy, asking for guidance from the course lecturer where necessary.
  • 6. Produce written work to a deadline and to the required length.

Syllabus plan

The following topics are likely to be covered, though there may be some variation from year to year:

  • Introduction: the animal in Russian culture both as ‘other’ and as a reflection of the human
  • Animals in folk and fairy tales: animal helpers and villains; transformation of human into animal and vice versa
  • Tolstoi’s ‘Strider: a Story of a Horse’: anthropocentric and animal centric interpretations
  • Animals in Chukovskii’s poetry for children: allegory or entertainment
  • Bulgakov and the Bolshevik vivisectionists: ‘Heart of a Dog’
  • Early twentieth-century poets and the animal kingdom: horses, dogs, and a cockroach shed light on the human condition
  • Zoshchenko’s subversive monkey: the children’s story that infuriated Stalin and led to the author’s public vilification

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching10Seminar
Scheduled Learning and Teaching5Lecture
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1Conclusion
Guided Independent Study41Reading and research
Guided Independent Study60Completion of formative and summative assessment tasks
Guided Independent Study33Weekly seminar preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
short class presentation and participation in group discussionpresentation: 3 minutes; group discussion: 10 minutes1, 2, 4, 6Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Written assignment501250 words1-6Written
Written assignment501250 words1-6Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Written assignmentWritten assignment1-6Referral/deferral period
Written assignmentWritten assignment1-6Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

(available in Russian and in English translation)

  • [anon.], selection of traditional folktales
  • Mikhail Bulgakov, ‘Sobach′e serdtse’ / ‘Heart of a Dog’
  • Kornei Chukovskii, ’Krokodil’ / ‘The Crocodile’; ‘Tarakanishche’ / ‘The Great Big Cockroach’; ‘Telefon’ / ‘The Telephone’
  • A selection of 20th-century poems including:
  • Vladimir Maiakovskii, ‘Vot kak ia sdelalsia sobakoi’ / ‘That’s how I became a dog’; ‘Khoroshee otnoshenie k loshadiam’ / ‘A good attitude towards horses’; Nikolai Oleinikov, ‘Tarakan’ / ‘The Cockroach’
  • Lev Tolstoi, ‘Kholstomer’ / ‘Strider’
  • Mikhail Zoshchenko, ‘Prikliucheniia obez′iany’ / ‘Adventures of a Monkey’

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Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

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Key words search

Russian literature, animals