Dostoevsky’s Demons | Mechanics' Institute

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Dostoevsky’s Demons
with Emily Laskin

In a small town in 1860s Russia, high-minded retired academics, bored young aristocrats, and an enigmatic band of revolutionaries come together to make social change—but the result is total chaos. This course examines one of the lesser-read great Russian novels, Demons (sometimes translated as The Possessed or The Devils), which Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote after returning from political exile in Siberia. We’ll work through this thrilling revolutionary mystery, along the way uncovering Dostoyevsky’s political philosophy, and possibly drawing some parallels to our current moment.

Wednesdays 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Session 1 – September 2: Part I, Chapter 1 (pgs. 7-44)

Session 2 – September 16: Part I, Chapters 2 – 5 (pgs. 44-228)

Session 3 – September 30: Part II, Chapters 1 – 5 (pgs. 231-380)

Session 4 – October 14: Part II, Chapters 7 – 10 (pgs. 381-506)

Session 5 – October 28: Part III, Chapters 1 – 4 (pgs. 509-624)

Session 6 – November 18: Part III, Chapters 5 – 8 (pgs. 625-748); Optional: Appendix (pgs. 749-787)

Emily Laskin is a graduate student in UC Berkeley’s Department of Comparative Literature, where she teaches courses on Russian, Persian, and English literature. Her dissertation, Geopoetics and Geopolitics, is about the travelogues, epic poetry, and novels that emerged from the Great Game, the Russian and British Empires’ contest for control in Central Asia.


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