Michael Ossorgin | Russian Program Director
THE GREAT RUSSIAN MINDS: PERSONALISM
*The Great Russian Minds Series: Personalism
MLAL 3077 V11 - Course Number: 14539
May 31st-June 30th, 2022 M-W, 1-4 p.m. EST
Fordham LC (online)
The fascinating philosophical tradition of Russian personalism defends human dignity, freedom, and respect for the individual. We use the late great scholar Sergei M. Polovinkin's (1935-2018) classifications to survey N. Lossky's intuitive personalism, N. Berdyaev's eschatological personalism, S. Bulgakov's sophianic personalism, P. Florensky's Christian personalism, and S. Frank's antinomical monodualism.
Original texts in English translation. Lecture and discussion in English. No knowledge of Russian is required. Texts are available in Russian for those pursuing Russian credit. This is an OCS-accredited course. 4 credit hours. Weekly in-person class coffee for all New York City attendees. Virtual coffee hour for non-city attendees.
*This course is the second of three in the Great Russian Minds Series to be offered over consecutive summers. The cycle began in 2021 and will repeat indefinitely through Fordham at Lincoln Center (online) with a generous grant from the Orthodox Christian Studies Center. The series continues next summer (2023) on Vladimir Solovyev.
*The Great Russian Minds Series: Mikhail Bakhtin
MLAL 3076 L11 - Course Number: 13128
June 1st-July 1st, 2021 M-Th, 1-4 p.m. EST
Fordham LC (online)
In Mikhail Bakhtin’s understanding, the novel perpetually outgrows and renews its form, making it well-suited for literature’s enduring task as he sees it: to reflect the unfinalizable image of the human being. Bakhtin draws inspiration from various fields of study in his history and theory of the novel, including psychology, literature, phenomenology, Judeo-Christian theology, class ideology, ethics, and music. In Bakhtin’s view, humor, revelry, absurdity, tragedy, the grotesque body, and the carnivalesque dismantle oppressive cultural and rhetorical power structures, supplanting them with empathy and catharsis. For Bakhtin, truth is dialogic; a fact expressed artistically in the polyphonic novel, where individual characters voice discordant world-views that occasionally strike a chord. For him, the novel humanizes authoritative texts by wresting them from their hallowed heights and turning them on all sides to view them up close with curiosity.
This summer survey course brings Bakhtin’s inquisitive method to bear on the great thinker himself, approaching him from all sides. We read several excellent translations beginning with Art and Answerability (1919) and Toward a Philosophy of the Act (1919-21), continuing with essays “Discourse in the Novel” (1934–1935), “Forms of Time and of the Chronotope in the Novel” (1937–1938) “From the Prehistory of Novelistic Discourse” (1940), “Epic and Novel” (1941), “Rhetoric to the Extent that it Lies” (1943), “A Person at the Mirror” (1943), “On questions of Self-Consciousness and Self-Evaluation” (1943), and concluding with Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics (1963, much-expanded from his 1929 Problems of Dostoevsky’s Art), Rabelais and His World (1965), and Speech Genres & Other Late Essays (1979). Curated scholarship contextualizes Bakhtin’s works. All readings and discussions in English.
Russian reading and writing track available. Counts towards Fordham’s Russian minor for those who have declared. Covers OCSC, Advanced Lit Core, and Comp Lit credits. SUMMER ONLINE 2021.
*This course is the first of three in the Great Russian Minds Series to be offered over the next three summers (2021, 2022, 2023) through Fordham at Lincoln Center (online) with a generous grant from the Orthodox Christian Studies Center.
DOSTOEVSKY AND RACE IN AMERICA
Dostoevsky and Race in America is a comparative course that puts Dostoevsky’s fiction into dialogue with three works by Black American intellectuals. The three main literary comparisons are between Dostoevsky’s Notes From the House of the Dead and W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk, Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground and Ellison’s Invisible Man, and Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Wright’s Native Son. The course begins with a historical comparison of Russian serfdom and American slavery. It ends with the continued analysis of literal and psychological enslavement through Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, Nikolai Berdyaev’s Slavery and Freedom, and James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.
Russian track available. Spring 2023. View the complete book list.
COURSES TAUGHT AT FORDHAM LINCOLN CENTER
Prof. Ossorgin's love of dialogue derives from his immersion in the Socratic method practiced at his alma mater, St. John's College (Annapolis). His comparative courses expose students to a range of Russian and Soviet thought selected from the mid-19th century to the late 20th. He encourages students to examine their convictions and their method of inquiry. He teaches students to teach themselves through meticulous preparation, rigorous contemplation, and receptivity to original thought. As a professor of literature, philosophy, art, and language, Ossorgin takes pains to situate and interpret nuanced works. However, he ultimately wants to help students articulate what they find.
THE APOCALYPSE COURSE: RUSSIAN REVELATIONS
THE APOCALYPSE COURSE: RUSSIAN AND AMERICAN REVELATIONS
Explore the revelatory moment that reverberates through historical and personal time. This interdisciplinary course is rooted in John’s Book of Revelation according to Russian religious philosophy. Comparative studies include Last Judgment Icons with Michaelangelo and Kandinsky's apocalyptic masterpieces; Blok’s "The Twelve” and T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men"; Gogol’s The Portrait and O’Connor’s “The Enduring Chill”; Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita and Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five; Tarkovsky's Sacrifice and Lindelof and Perrotta's The Leftovers; Freud's "Beyond the Pleasure Principle"; Kermode's The Sense of an Ending; Scriabin’s Second Symphony and Bob Dylan’s “Hard Rain.” Fulfills Orthodox Christian minor requirement. Taught in English. Russian track available.