REECAS Quarterly Course Lists
Spring 2021: RUSS 220 Russian Literature and Cultural History
Meeting Time: WF 12:30 am – 2:20 pm
Joint Sections: N/A
Instructors: Jose Alaniz
Topic: Slavic Vampires and the Eastern European Occult
The occult (from Latin occultus, “hidden” or “secret”) refers to esoteric, especially non-Christian or anti-Christian “concealed wisdom.” For most of their history, though, such philosophical and spiritual beliefs had nothing to do with Christianity – because they predated it by thousands and thousands of years!
That’s certainly the case in Russia and Eastern Europe, where innumerable forms of paganism have existed since prehistoric times, and even once the Slavs converted to Christianity starting around 1000 CE, their old ways of thinking came to overlap with the new religion in surprising ways (what Russians call dvoeverie or “dual faith”). This course surveys some key features of the Eastern European occult, a very broad subject, as reflected mostly in Russian literature and culture, with some attention paid to Czech, Polish and other varieties in the region, from ancient times to the present day. We will focus especially on the vampire and related phenomena, so bring your garlic!
All readings and viewings in English.