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Languages of Culture: Medicine (from Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century)

The course is dedicated to the ways medical metaphors, arguments, images and epistemic models were used in Russian culture, literature, and cultural policy. Ranging from Medieval chronicles to the most topical texts of the post-Modern Russian writers, from the medical-statistical reports of the Imperial officials to the early Soviet eugenic utopias, medical discourse(s) permeates the Russian tradition from its origins to nowadays. All the areas and branches of the Russian culture were both implicitly and explicitly affected by medicine, but the course presupposes a special focus on the literary field: among the world-known Russian writers one may find a number of professional physicians – to cite but a few, Anton Tchekov and Mikhail Bulgakov; others, like Nikolay Gogol or Fiodor Dostoevsky, used medical material for building literary plots, sometimes blurring the line between literary genres and properly medical narrative. The study of the interplay of literary narrative and medical discourse will make it possible to reflect on the shared anthropological models, metaphors, references, visual tropes etc.  

The course is being taught by Dr Julia Ivanova and Dr Pavel Sokolov in the summer semester 2020.