Twentieth Century Russian Novel

Second year modules

Lecturer: Jeremy Morris

In the first semester students study Russian novels written in the period 1900-1960.  They learn about the demands made on literature and writers by different groups in society and the context in which the novels were written. They study the specific literary characteristics of each work and its contribution to the development of the genre. Level 1 students give presentations on specific aspects of the novels; level 2 students give presentations and lead class discussion.

In the second semester, students study Russian novels written since 1960. The module concludes with an examination of the development of publishing and literary life since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Individual works are considered in the context of key themes including dystopian fiction, Soviet arts policy, censorship and repression, Socialist Realism, samizdat and postmodernism. Works in other genres are considered where appropriate.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module students should be able:

  • To outline the development of the novel in twentieth-century Russia;
  • To apply appropriate literary-critical techniques of analysis to fictional works;
  • To identify key stylistic and thematic features of the novels studied;
  • To place specific works in their literary, historical and societal contexts;
  • To research limited pre-defined questions which include elements of comparison and contrast of the approach of different authors to similar situations or problems by the critical use of secondary literature and present findings verbally to the class and in written form in essays;
  • To make a class presentation and lead class discussions


  • One 2000-word essay in semester 1 (35%).
  • One 3000-word essay in semester 2 (55%).
  • One class presentation including leading of class discussion on a predefined topic (10%).