Literary Journeys Into the Past

Ilya Repin, They Did Not Expect Him.  1884-88.  Wikimedia Commons.

Students in the Fall 2017 class, A History of the Russian Empire, wrote creative papers that asked them to step into the past by writing fiction.  The class read famous works of literature such as Mikhail Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time, Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s What is to be Done?, and Sholem Aleichem’s “Tevye the Dairyman Tales.”  Many students opted for creative papers when completing their assignments, including “lost” stories by Lermontov and Aleichem.  When writing about Chernyshevsky’s novel, which famously was allowed to be published by an imperial censor only to inspire would-be revolutionaries, students wrote their own versions of the censorship report.  Taking these fictional journeys, as you will see, allowed the students to think about the past in innovative ways.

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