Skip to main content

Unit information: ‘Hedgehogs and Foxes’: The Nineteenth-Century Russian Novel 2019 in 2014/15

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name ‘Hedgehogs and Foxes’: The Nineteenth-Century Russian Novel 2019
Unit code RUSS20013
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Chitnis
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of Russian
Faculty Faculty of Arts


In this unit, students will study five of the best-known classic Russian novels, by writers including Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Turgenev. They will explore the social, intellectual and artistic contexts that inform the works, while focusing particularly on analysis of the key themes and artistic approaches in each novel. Students will also trace through the works the development in Russian literature of certain key ideas, including the superfluous man, the portrayal of women, ideas of love, freedom, heroism, truth, justice and redemption, the purpose of literature, and the idea of Russia past, present and future.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will acquire a thorough understanding of the key themes and preoccupations of major works by some of Russia and the world’s most distinctive and influential novelists. They will be able to analyse these novels in the contemporaneous social, intellectual and artistic contexts of Russia and Europe, and understand their place in the subsequent development of Russian and world literature. Through the detailed knowledge acquired about how the novel developed in Russia, they will also gain a more general understanding of how the novel form might be defined, constructed and deconstructed.

Teaching details

1 x weekly lecture, 1 x weekly seminar (split group)

Assessment Details

2000-word essay (50%) plus 2-hour exam (50%)

Reading and References

Lermontov – A Hero of Our Time Gogol – Dead Souls Dostoevsky – Crime and Punishment Tolstoy – Anna Karenina Richard Freeborn, The Rise of the Russian Novel, London, 1973. Malcolm V. Jones et al. (eds), The Cambridge Companion to the Classic Russian Novel, Cambridge, 1998.