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Unit information: Dostoevsky (TB2) in 2020/21

Unit name Dostoevsky (TB2)
Unit code RUSS30073
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Coates
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Russian
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The unit will offer an in-depth analysis of the later fiction of Fedor Dostoevsky, building on exposure to earlier works explored in second-year units such as The Struggle for Russia and Hedgehogs and Foxes. The works will be studied in the context of ideological, political, and social developments in 19th-century Russia, and of Dostoevsky’s own creative and ideological evolution. Attention will be paid to both thematic and formal elements of Dostoevsky’s fiction, and account will be taken of both significant historical and recent critical approaches to his work.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of Dostoyevsky’s mature fiction;
  2. distinguish connections between the novels and the ideological, political, and social context in which they were written;
  3. interpret Dostoyevsky’s own worldview within that context;
  4. appraise how Dostoyevsky has been received both within Russia and across the West, and how that reception has varied across time;
  5. formulate independent judgements and sophisticated written arguments in response to Dostoyevsky’s work;
  6. develop effective collaborative skills for a joint presentation project.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation.

Assessment Details

1 x formative group presentation (required to pass), testing ILOs 1-4 and 6

1 x 3000-word essay (60%), testing ILOs 1-5

1 x open-book commentary exercise of 1500 words (40%), testing ILOs 1-5

Reading and References

F. M. Dostoevskii, The Idiot

F. M. Dostoevskii, The Devils

F. M. Dostoevskii, The Brothers Karamazov

S. J. Young, Dostoevskii’s The Idiot and the Ethical Foundations of Narrative (2004)

W. J. Leatherbarrow (ed.), Dostoevskii’s The Devils: A Critical Companion (1999)

R. F. Miller, The Brothers Karamazov: Worlds of the Novel (1992)