RUSN 1070 Essay #2

Length:  Approximately 1,250-1,500 words

Citation Format:  MLA

Tutorial:  Email your thesis statement and outline to your TA by the Feb. 22 tutorial
Due Date:  March 8 (submit via Brightspace)

Here are some possible essay questions.  Choose one.  You are allowed to come up with your own question, but be sure to clear it with me first.  Essays should be around five pages (not including the bibliography).  As with the essay samples that I have included on Brightspace, you do not need a title-page; instead, you just need to include your name, your student number, the course number, my name, your TA’s name, and the date in the top right hand corner of the first page.  Your essay should have a title that reflects not only your topic but your argument about that topic; an introductory paragraph that introduces your topic, suggests how it will be approached in regards to the text, and closes with a clear and specific thesis statement; supporting paragraphs organized around points that support your thesis and that open with a strong topic sentence; specific evidence from the primary text itself; and a strong conclusion that reinforces your thesis and suggests something about its wider implications.  The essay samples on Brightspace are very clear in regards to what I am looking for, so be sure to look over these before and while writing.  Be specific, be organized, and be sure to make good use of the text when making your case.  When it comes to quoting from the text, be sure to comment on the quotes you use and incorporate them into your larger argument.  If you have any questions while writing your essay, or if you would like me to look over a draft of your essay, please let me know. 

  1. How does Blok explore themes of exile and loss in “A Girl was Singing?”  How might this exploration be connected to his own life?  To what ends?  For this topic, you can make use of the lecture material regarding Blok’s life.
  2. How does Akhmatova explore themes of exile and loss in “Dante?”  How might this exploration be connected to her own life?  What connections does she see between herself and Dante?  To what ends?  For this topic, you can make use of the lecture material regarding Akhmatova’s life.
  3. How does Akhmatova explore themes of resistance and patriotism in “Courage?”  How are these themes linked to not only strength in the face of wartime horrors, but to her role as a poet?  How is the Russian language (along with Russian poetry) linked to this fight?
  4. How does Mandelstam represent St. Petersburg in “Leningrad” and “O Lord, help me to live through this night?”  How does his representation of the city connect to what the city had suffered?  How does it connect to what he had suffered?  For this topic, you can make use of the lecture material regarding Mandelstam’s life.
  5. How does Yurii explore his vocation as a poet in the selected passages from Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago?  How does he connect this to other Russian writers such as Pushkin and Chekhov?  To what ends? 
  6. How is life in Russia during these early years of the Revolution depicted in Yurii’s diary in the selected passages from Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago?  How does Yurii connect the life of the mind and the heart (i.e. his thoughts and feelings as a poet) with life on the land?  How can this be connected to the depiction of Nature in ‘March?’  To what ends?
  7. How does Pasternak make use of Hamlet in “Hamlet?”  How does he toy with questions of fate and free will, particularly in relation to tragedy?  How does he contrast succumbing to one’s fate with standing up against the forces that stand in one’s way?  To what ends?    
  8. How does Babel portray the brutality of the Russian Civil War in ‘My First Goose?’  How is the narrator affected by this brutality?  What roles do illusion and disillusion play in this tale?  To what ends?
  9. How does Babel set up the story of Benya Krik’s rise and fall?  What role does Odessa play in his story?  How does Babel represent (and respond to) the anti-Semitism so widespread in Odessa (and in Russia as a whole) during this time?  To what ends?
  10.  How is the devil represented in the opening chapter of The Master and Margarita?  How does the opening chapter tackle themes of persecution, faith, doubt, and/or historical representation?  How are these complicated by being connected to both the purges of the 1930s and the persecution and death of Jesus in the New Testament?

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