Literature and the Dream of Agriculture in Russia and Beyond
Why do city people think if they started farming, they could heal themselves and their society? How do writers make agriculture seem exciting, or farms seem beautiful? While agriculture is ancient and world-wide, literature and political movements that posited it as a way for urbanites to be happier and more virtuous and societies to reach utopia thrived especially in the 19th-century Russian Empire. These movements influenced Soviet Communism, nationalisms (including Zionism), and American communes in the 1970s. In this class, we read fiction, poetry, memoirs, and essays about city people's embrace of farming. We compare the Eastern European case to the United States in the 20th century and we look at 21st-century back-to-the-land writing and films. This class is offered in partnership with the Stanford Farm, where we will spend a few days working (assuming pandemic restrictions permit).