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Georgetown University


Detailed Course Information


Fall 2017
Jan 17, 2018
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RUSS 380 - Terrorism/Ethnic Strife in Lit
The main purpose of the course is to determine if terrorism and Islam in Russia are connected at all. If not, what relevance does each, as it appears in Imperial Russia, have for your life today?
Terrorism and Islam were confused long before Sept. 11, 2001, and not merely in the USA.  The purpose of this course is to distinguish between the two, as well as to explore some reasons why the gross confusion between them has appeared, in one particular culture -- not American but, this time, Imperial Russian.

Terrorism will be traced as a purely Russian phenomenon, originating in Bakunin's thought, taking deep root in Nechaev and Nechaevism, and then ascribed to the mentality of several minorities to scapegoat them.  The roots of this scapegoating are largely spiritual, and therefore particularly difficult to understand in our current, politically-oriented mentality.

Yet it is imperative to address the spiritual nature of terrorism as well. Essentially, it is a type of murder not  sanctioned by the army, the state, or the penitentiary system in a society. This murder usually aims at political goals but does not stem from the governing political system.  Such a view of murder as a spiritual aberration of morality is usually best addressed by fiction, especially spiritually oriented. We will read Dostoevsky's Demons, with special references to Crime and Punishment, to understand this mentality. We will then explore the spiritual roots of terrorism in the 1905 Russian Revolution and in Andrey Bely's Petersburg.  After this, we will read excerpts from Dmitry Merezhkovsky's Alexander I and from the Decembrists.  From then on, we will move to the Russian Empire's treatment of Islam within itself, as well as in its conquest politics.  To address these problems, we will read: Pushkin's Travels to Arzerum, Mikhail  Lermontov's "Bela"and "Princess Mary," both from his Hero of our Time, and Leo Tolstoy's Hadji-Murad and his short story "Prisoner of the Caucasus." If time permits, we will also watch Bodrov's film "Prisoner of the Mountains," based on Tolstoy's story but transposed upon the 1990s Russo-Chechen war. (Taught in English. Satisfies the HALC requirement.) 

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours
0.000 Lab hours

Levels: MN or MC Graduate, Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Lecture

Russian Department

Course Attributes:
HALC - Hum, Art, Lit, Cul, Mean Grade is Calculated

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Release: 8.7.2