UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


SERS0043 Russian Literature in Revolution: Experiments in Form, 1917-53 

UCL Credits: 15

Total Learning Hours: 150

ECTS: 7.5

Level: Advanced


Term 1

Module Coordinator: Dr Sarah Young

Taught By: Dr Sarah Young

To find out more about this module, please contact the Module Coordinator.

Weekly Contact Hours:  2.0 (2 hour seminar per week)
Prerequisites: Russian language at advanced level
Compulsory Module for:

Summative Assessment

Coursework Essay, 4,000 words (100%)

Formative Assessment

Coursework: 2 short reflection pieces to be submitted as blog posts for the group to read and comment on; written feedback will be provided; Verbal feedback on presentations.

Examination: Students receive written feedback on essays in line with the SSEES Policy on Examination Feedback.

Module Outline

The early Soviet era was a period of great upheaval in all areas of life, including literature and culture. This module examines developments in literature from the 1917 revolution to the death of Stalin in 1953, encompassing the Modernism and experimentation that marked the 1920s, and the drive to find a unified literary style with which to support the building of communism, leading to the birth of socialist realism. It will cover both ‘official’ authors who enjoyed the support of the political regime, and writers whose position was more ambiguous. Both well known texts, including Babel’’s Konarmiia and Bulgakov’s Master i Margarita, and lesser known and recently rediscovered works, are included, and the focus of classes will be on close reading of texts, discussion of the development of literary forms, and the political context in which they were produced.

At the end of the module you should have fulfilled the following aims and objectives


· To gain an understanding of the main developments of literary history in the first half of the Soviet period, and an insight into the engagement of creative writing with ideology and ‘social command.’

· To examine a range of texts that will enable understanding of the different forms of prose that developed in this period.

· To analyse key texts, ideas and techniques in detail.


· to acquire sound knowledge of the main literary developments of the Soviet period from the Bolshevik revolution to the demise of the Modernist movement, and the development of socialist realism in the Stalinist era.

· to enhance skills of close textual analysis of the works studied, and of research, essay writing, and the articulation of ideas.

· to acquire in-depth knowledge of the particular texts, authors and ideas that you research for your coursework essays.

Indicative Texts

You should read at least the following set texts before the start of the course:

Babel’, Konarmiia; Bulgakov, Master i Margarita, I’lf and Petrov, Dvenadtsat’ stul’ev; Platonov, Dzhan

Useful initial secondary reading:

Brown, E.J. Russian Literature Since the Revolution. rev. ed., Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1978 



Course Code



Full Year AffiliatesRegister for SERS0043As Above 7.5
Affiliates studying in Term 1Register for SERS0043As Above 7.5

Please note: This outline is accurate at the time of publication. Minor amendments may be made prior to the start of the academic year.