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2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SLAV1110 Introduction to Russian Folklore: Fairy Tales and Cultural Practice

20 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Ilya Yablokov

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Never greet your guest over the threshold; face the right side when you sleep; and if you yawn, make the sign of the cross over your mouth. Failure to observe these rules courts disaster, for it places you at the mercy of evil spirits. Premised on the view that borders and apertures are particularly dangerous, these beliefs underpin Russian folklore, which teems with prohibitions that presuppose the aggressively malevolent nature of mysterious forces not only in the pagan, but also in the contemporary Christian world. Several of these forces, however, are complex and contradictory, such as the famously colourful Baba-Yaga, 'the witch of all time', who paradoxically symbolizes life and death, female and male, nurture and torture. Though these notions are traceable to medieval times and an agrarian society's dependence on the unpredictable elements in a bleak geographical expanse, some of them operate today, especially in rural areas, where the population believes in 'the evil eye' that can cause people to wither and die.


The module aims to introduce Russian folklore historically by examining Russian cultural history over 2 centuries and also thematically by considering how Russian folkloric traditions survive in modern cultural practice. The modules will introduce key elements of Russian folklore and theories that can be used for its analysis - structural, linguistic, cultural (e.g. Propp, Bakhtin). The module will explore Russian folklore across disciplines as well as media, i.e. oral tale, animation, film, poetry, short story and others. Students will be introduced to Russian folkloric tradition as well as the ways in which they have been incorporated into Russian cultural canon, for example in texts written by Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoy and other authors. The module will discuss the function of the popular and high culture as defined in the Russian cultural tradition.

Learning outcomes
At the end of the module the students will have acquired
- Knowledge about another culture's belief system as articulated in its folklore.
- An understanding of various schools of criticism that can be used in the discussion of folklore
- An understanding of cultural phenomena that operate across genres and media
- Knowledge of interdisciplinary, multi-media approaches to study of a cultural phenomenon.

Skills outcomes
At the end of the module the student will have acquired the following skills:
- Skills of analysis of fairy tales and how they continue to function in contemporary society
- Skills of analysis of cultural texts - tales, films, literary texts - using methodology of reading folkloric texts
- Skills of articulating ideas in the oral and written form on the subject of cultural analysis of Russian folklore


In addition to examining various aspects of pagan demonology, this module focuses on various folkloric genres: epic poems (byliny), proverbs, spells and fairy tales. Students familiar with Western fairy tales and Walt Disney's screen adaptations will find Russian versions of the same or similar plots full of surprises evidencing the originality of the Russian folk imagination. Visual materials (film, paintings, animation and handicrafts) and music supplement readings for the course. No knowledge of Russian language is required. Russian texts will be provided in English translation.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Reading and viewing for lectures and seminars; writing up notes of and preparation for presenting outcomes in seminars; researching and writing essays; preparing for the exam

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored on a regular basis via classroom participation, group discussion and prepared presentations (formative).

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1,500 words50.00
In-course AssessmentShort in class quizzes10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)40.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 13/11/2018 09:25:44


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