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Ahmad ibn Fadlan, Ibn Fadlan and the Land of Darkness (optional)


The Song of Igor’s Campaign (trans. Vladimir Nabokov)

Leo Tolstoy, The Cossacks and Other Stories (trans. David McDuff)

Andrey Platonov, Soul and Other Stories (trans. Robert and Elizabeth Chandler et al.)

Chingiz Aitmatov, The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years (trans. John French)

Hamid Ismailov, The Railway (trans. Robert Chandler)

Anna Politkovskaya, A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya (trans. Alexander Burry and Tatiana Tulchinsky)


Fazil Iskander, Sandro of Chegem (trans. Susan Brownsberger) is OUT OF PRINT; please buy ASAP on Amazon or from another source


      First contact

Ahmad ibn Fadlan, description of the Rus' (10th century)

Vladimir chooses (Byzantine) Orthodoxy over Judaism, Islam, or western Christianity – Primary Chronicle

The Lay of Igor’s Campaign (1200s)


     The Golden Horde and the Mongol Yoke

“The Battle on the River Kalka” (1224)

“Orison on the Downfall of Russia” (??, lament c. 1240)

“The Tale of the Destruction of Riazan” (c 1500)

 “The Battle Beyond the Don” (“Zadonshchina”) (c 1380)

Afanasii Nikitin, “Journey Beyond Three Seas” (1466-1472)


     Muscovy Claims Russia; Russia Becomes an Empire

Lomonosov, “Ode on the Taking of Khotin” (1739)


     Romanticizing Islam

Pushkin, “A Captive of the Caucasus” (1822)

Pushkin, “The Fountain of Bakhchisarai” (1824)

Pushkin, “Eastern” poems and “The Prophet” (1820s and 1830s)

Bestuzhev-Marlinsky, “Ammalat-Bek” (1832)

Lermontov, “Ashik-Kerib” (1837)

Lermontov, “Bela” from Hero of Our Time (1838, revised 1841)


     Realism to Modernism

Tolstoy, “Prisoner in the Caucasus” (1872)

Tolstoy, Hadji Murad (1904)

Self-orientalizing poems by Evdokiia Rostopchina, Mirra Lokhvitskaya and Marietta Shaginian (various dates)

Tsvetaeva, “To the Memory of Nina Dzhavakha” (1909); “Stenka Razin” cycle (1917)

Akhmatova, “The Iron Ring” (1917-1936)

Yuri Tynyanov, The Death of the Vazir-Mukhtar (1928)


     Soviet Russification (and Obligatory Atheism)

Andrey Platonov, “Soul” (c 1935)

Chingiz Aitmatov, “Jamila” (1958)

Chingiz Aitmatov, The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years (1980)

Fazil' Iskander, “Forbidden Fruit” (1966)

Fazil' Iskander, Sandro of Chegem (1973)


     Post-Soviet Relations

Hamid Ismailov, The Railway (1997)

Anna Politkovskaya, A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya (2001)


Films on relevant topics (for possible class presentations):

Mikhail Kalatozov, Salt for Svanetia (1930)

Sergei Paradzhanov, Ashik-Kerib (1988)

Vladimir Khotinenko, The Muslim (1995)

Sergei Bodrov, Prisoner of the Caucasus (1996)


Secondary sources:

Michael David-Fox, Peter Holquist and Alexander Martin, eds., Orientalism and Empire in Russia

Helen M. Faller, Nation, Language, Islam: Tatarstan’s Sovereignty Movement

Brice Grant, The Captive and the Gift: Cultural Histories of Sovereignty in Russia and the Caucasus

Susan Layton, Russian Literature and Empire: Conquest of the Caucasus from Pushkin to Tolstoy

Hamberg, Sanders, Tucker, Russian-Muslim Confrontation in the Caucasus: Alternative Visions of the Conflict between Imam Shamil and the Russians, 1830-1859

“Where Piety Meets Power: How the Russian church and with it the Russian state are gaining ground, in several senses, in the Holy Land,” The Economist, Dec. 19 2009, pp. 82-84.