19th and 20th century Russian literature:
a research guide
Welcome to the world of Russian literature research! This is an exciting field with so much to learn and so much to gain. This guide (also called a pathfinder) focuses mostly on 19th and 20th century Russian literature, which are the periods generally considered to be the field’s highest points. Russian literature is rich, ripe with interesting and unique characters and players; for beginners, however, it can be an intimidating subject. The language (and even the alphabet) is different, the culture is foreign, and Russian works tend to be on the lengthy side. If you can get past these barriers though, you will experience some of the world’s greatest literary experiences.
Speaking of barriers, let’s get one out of the way - the language. There’s really no way around it. Russian is completely different from English, and unfortunately, there are some materials that you just can’t get in English. If you do read Russian, disregard this warning and be on your merry researching way! If not, however, don’t fret - this pathfinder is designed with you in mind. Most of the sources presented are available in English, and sources that are not are noted as such. A couple of the online sources listed can easily be translated into English, using the help of web browsers (like Google Chrome, which will automatically detect foreign languages and ask if you want them translated). If you just need some help on a couple words or phrases, you can use the Russian Dictionary Tree website (listed under Dictionaries below), or a physical Russian-English dictionary.
This pathfinder was also designed with having a mix of online and print sources listed. If you feel inclined to use one method over the other, however, you should still be able to find plenty of sources.
One thing to keep in mind when doing your research is how much language in this field changes over time through historical context. During the periods that this pathfinder covers, Russia went through some pretty radical changes. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the area previously known as Russia was called either the Soviet Union or the U.S.S.R. This held true until the Soviet Union officially collapsed in 1991, and the name Russia began to be used again. These names are often intertwined in research, especially depending on the time and the context of the particular publication. Along with this, keep in mind that a Soviet author might not be Russian. The Soviet Union comprised a number of Eastern European and even Asian countries during its lifetime.
A final note - some of these sources are quite old. That doesn’t necessarily make them outdated, as the periods they’re often covering were in some cases over a century before. In fact, older sources may be more useful at times to capture the proper spirit of the time period.
Good luck with your research, have fun, and enjoy the world of Russian literature!
- Topic Overview
- Cambridge Encyclopedia of Russia and the former Soviet Union. DK14 .C35 1994 4th floor, 1994. This resource covers all of Russian history and culture, but has a great section specifically on Russian literature. It is well-organized by time periods, styles, most famous authors and works, and includes much context and history within the subject. This would be a great place to start for someone needing a general overview of the subject.
- Russian Literature: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/513793/Russian-literature. This links to the article on Russian literature in the online version of Encyclopædia Britannica. It provides a basic overview, as well as many links to related topics, sub-articles on various authors, works, and styles, as well as pictures of some of the most important Russian writers.
- Russian Literature: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_literature. This Wikipedia article gives a brief, but strong overview of the topic at large. Keep in mind that Wikipedia is an online database in which information may be edited at will by users, which makes it a sometimes unreliable source. In this case, however, information is fairly well cited. There are also several links at the end of the article which may be helpful for further research.
- Locating Books
Locating materials for your research can be fun and easy, once you know where to look. Libraries using the Library of Congress Classification System (like Young Library and other UK libraries do) group similiar books together under call numbers. This means that when you go to locate a book that you found through the online catalog (InfoKat: http://infokat.uky.edu/vwebv/searchBasic?sk=en_US), you might find another book right next to it that would be even better! Young Library has a decent selection of Russian resource and literature books, and combining it with some online sources should be enough to get a fine paper together.
The most useful call number ranges for Russian literature research are:
- DK - atlases
- G2 or G7 - maps
- PG - general reference/literary material
- PS - biography
- Z2 - bibliography
As this pathfinder moves through each individual resource type, you will be provide with relevant and useful subject headings that will make online catalog searching easy and fruitful. These subject headings are official with the Library of Congress, and will generally work with any catalog using the system. For a listing of all of the LC’s subject headings in Russian literature, you can search their online database: http://authorities.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?Search_Arg=russian+literature&Search_Code=SHED_&PID=iTOW3zP15g8BnCQ_MVSIFSelPUek6&SEQ=20101206180720&CNT=100&HIST=1.
The LC has also produced a handy chart to help you decipher the Cyrillic alphabet: http://www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/romanization/russian.pdf.
One thing to keep in mind while locating books - you may run into the issue of UK not having what you need. UK’s catalog is decent, but is not as broad as other universities with larger Russian departments. Never fear though, as long as you plan ahead! You can use the Interlibrary Loan system (referred to throughout as ILL), in which Young Library can borrow a book from a different library. This procedure may take some time, however, so make sure to check into this early on in your research. Instructions for using ILL can be found here: http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/page.php?lweb_id=8<ab_id=31. Be aware that ILL users must have a valid library card.
Please note that all locations of books presented in this pathfinder may be found in William T. Young Library on the University of Kentucky campus, unless otherwise noted.
- Guides to the Literature
- Russian Literature in English Resources by Jennie McKee, Subject Librarian at Reed College: http://guides.library.reed.edu/srg/print/25-Russian-Literature-in-English-Resources This guide, though specifically created for use by students at Reed College, contains several great general resources and research tips.
- Research Guide: Russian Literature by Wookjin Cheun, Librarian for Slavic and East European Studies at Indiana University: http://www.libraries.iub.edu/index.php?pageId=1001192#bibl This extensive guide includes mostly sources actually written in Russian, but has several good suggestions for English resources under the “Dictionaries and Encyclopedias” heading. If you can read Russian, however, this collection would be a fantastic place to start your research.
- Slavic and East European Library - Bibliography of Russian Literary Resources, by the University of Illinois: http://cooper.library.uiuc.edu/spx/class/SubjectResources/SubSourRus/ruslitbib.htm. This impressive guide lists many, many resources in Russian literature, both online and in print. It has an especially impressive bibliography section, although almost all of the titles listed are written in Russian. Throughout the other sections, there are English and Russian-language sources mixed, but there are enough English sources to make this page an extremely valuable place for beginning your journey.
Recommended LC Subject Headings:
Russian literature - 19th century - Translations into English - Bibliography.
Russian literature - 20th century - Bibliography.
Russian literature - Translations into English - Bibliography.
- Books available in English by Russians and on Russia, published in the United States. Z2506 .M370 1960 Reference, 1960. This bibliography is like the Russian equivalent of Books in Print - it literally is a listing of all known works by Russians and about Russia, published in English in the U.S. It lists alphabetically by author last name, and has a useful index. This is a valuable resource for finding English material.
- Books on soviet Russia, 1917-1942; a bibliography and a guide to reading. Z2510 .G75 Reference, 1943. This bibliography has a small section devoted to books on Russian literature during the first half of the Soviet period, found on pages 244-249. Though this would now be considered a fairly dated resource, it was written in the contemporary time of which it covers, which could lead to interesting resources about what the culture was actually like.
- A select bibliography of works in English on Russian history, 1801-1917. Z2509 .S5 Reference, 1962. This bibliography would be a great resource to find information about one of Russian literature’s most fascinating periods - the 19th century, leading up to the Revolution. What makes this resource even more valuable is that everything listed in it is published in English. There is a small section on literature, found on pages 85-88.
- Soviet dissident literature, a critical guide. Z2511.U5 W64 1983 Reference, 1983. This bibliography focuses on mostly activist and Samizdat literature. Samizdat was a network of underground writing, published in secret and free from censorship during the Soviet period. Presented are a mixture of both Russian and English titles, but there are enough English titles for this to be a useful resource for a non-Russian speaker.
- Women and writing in Russia and the USSR : a bibliography of English-language sources. PG2997 .N460 1992 4th floor, 1992. This resource is divided by writing topic and features work by all female Russian authors, who often seemed to be overlooked in the male-dominated world of Russian literature.. Every work listed is available in English, making this a very valuable tool for non-Russian speakers working in the field.
- Reference Sources
- General Encyclopedias
Recommended LC Subject Headings:
Russia - History - Encyclopedias
Russia - Encyclopedias
Soviet Union - History - Encyclopedias
- Encyclopedia of Russian History - Though not limited to literature, this Gale Reference material has a vast amount of articles on broad literature topics (like the Golden and Silver Ages, Samizdat, and Censorship), as well as general biographies of famous authors and poets, and overviews of particularly treasured works. Each article includes a bibliography, pointing to other useful resources on particular topics. Using search terms like “author,” “poet,” and “book” will limit results to be more manageable. Available through UK Electronic Resources.
- Reference Guide to Short Fiction - Short Fiction is an important part of Russian literature, as many Russian authors wrote both short and long prose. Searching for “Russian” in this Gale Reference material will yield overview articles on dozens of key Russian short fiction pieces and short fiction authors, each including a bibliography. Available through UK Electronic Resources.
- Reference Guide to World Literature - This is the long prose companion to the Reference Guide to Short Fiction, and yields even more results when searching the term “Russian.” Includes articles on important Russian novels and novelists, as well as bibliographies leading to more sources. Available through UK Electronic Resources.
- Subject Encyclopedias
Recommended LC Subject Headings:
Russian literature - Dictionaries
- The Cambridge history of Russian literature. PG2951 .C36 1992 *Not currently available at UK Libraries. This reference tool comes highly recommended through various online resources presented throughout this pathfinder. It is claimed to be fairly exhaustive in the field, with various subject articles written by experts. According to the publisher website, the bibliography and bio-bibliography are especially useful. Unfortunately, this title is listed in UK’s catalog (InfoKat) as lost. However, it seems like this would be a good candidate for ILL, as a search in WorldCat yields many results. Alternatively, there is an older version (from 1989) that is available through Young Library, but was checked out at the time of this pathfinder’s writing. According to the publisher, the only major update to the 1992 version was a new section about the fall of the Soviet Union, and about writers of the 1980’s. If these subjects do no pertain to your research, using the 1989 version would probably suffice.
- The modern encyclopedia of East Slavic, Baltic, and Eurasian literatures. PG2940 .M6 Reference, 1977-1997. This 10-volume set was one of the first encyclopedias on Russian literature to be published in English, and features general articles on authors, individual works, literary movements, and cultural aspects. Be advised, though InfoKat lists the title as stated, volumes 1-9 are actually titled The modern encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet Literature, and the set only seems to go through the letter “i.”
- Reference guide to Russian literature. PG2940 .R44 1998 Reference, 1998. This lean single-volume really packs a punch! Several different lists are provided, covering writers’ chronologies, famous works, various reading lists, a glossary, and general subject essays. The real heart of the resource is the alphabetized collection of information about several important writers, including short biographies and critiques on their work. The guide ends with a few pages of information about the various contributors, presenting a handy list of experts in the field.
Recommended LC Subject Headings:
English language - Dictionaries - Russian
Russian literature - Dictionaries
(In addition to the sources listed below, there are a number of Russian-English dictionaries and phrasebooks in the Reference stacks, ranges PG22-26.)
- Dictionary of Russian literature. PG2940 .H3 1959 4th floor, 1959. This dictionary lists short articles on Russian authors, genres, literary terms, philosophers, and figures in an alphabetical style. The articles in this are rich and useful, but there is no index or table of contents. If you need information on one of the most popular authors or topics, you’ll probably find something here; otherwise, you’ll have to try your luck.
- Directory of Russian Marxism: http://www.mit.edu:8001/people/fjk/Glossary/index.html. This online glossary is written in Russian, but if using the Google Chrome browser, most of it can be quickly translated into English. The translation is not perfect, but it’s generally enough to make the glossary usable. Listed are cultural events and subjects, as well as writers and other public figures associated with Marxism. Marxism had a tremendous impact on literature, and this glossary would be helpful in studying Russian culture in literature.
- Russian Dictionary Tree: http://russian.cornell.edu/rdt/. This online translator tool is not strictly related to literature terms, but could be very useful if faced with an unfamiliar Russian word. The page’s simplicity is countered by its power - you can type either an English word or a Russian word into the text box, and the database will return its language counterpart, as well as language context and syntax.
Recommended LC Subject Headings:
Russia - Archival Resources - United States
- The Russian Empire and Soviet Union: a guide to manuscripts and archival materials in the United States. Z 249 .G66 Reference, 1981. This directory lists collections of archived Russian materials all across the US, organized by state. Not every collection in this guide is centered on literature, but the many which are could be terrific places to find primary sources. The offerings in Kentucky are slim, but if you’re willing to travel, there are several collections listed in the surrounding areas (Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, etc.). Keep in mind that this directory was published in 1981, meaning that the information may or may not be current; if using this guide, it would behoove you to call the provided phone numbers before actually traveling to any of the collections.
- Russian Literature - Russian Authors and Poets: a web directory: http://www.zeroland.co.nz/lit_russian.html. This web directory provides various links to places all over the Internet related to the research of Russian literature and Russian writers. Highlighted is information about some of the most famous Russian writers, but several general resource materials are available as well. Be aware that some of the links lead to Russian language pages - generally anything with the domain name .ru will fall into this category. With a decent browser translator, however, this shouldn’t be much of a problem.
- Almanacs, Yearbooks, Handbooks, Manuals
Recommended LC Subject Headings:
Russian literature - Dictionaries
- Handbook of Russian literature. PG2940 .H29 1985 Reference, 1985. This handbook provides easy-to-navigate lists and entries on various writers, famous works, literary styles and movements, as well as a list of literary journals (though most of these are in Russian), and an alphabet translation table. Perhaps one of the most helpful parts of this handbook is the extensive bibliography, listed by subject. Recommended for anyone just starting their search for research in the field.
- Plots and Characters in Major Russian Fiction. PG3095 .B4 Reference, 1978. Each of the volumes in this slim two-volume set is split into two different alphabetized lists - short, but thorough explanations of the central plot lines in major Russian works, and identification of each story’s characters. This manual would be extremely useful for a user who is new to Russian fiction, as keeping up with the complicated foreign names can be difficult.
- Biographical Sources
Recommended LC Subject Headings:
Authors, Russian - 19th century - Biography - Dictionaries
Authors, Russian - 20th century - Biography - Dictionaries
- Contemporary Russian Poets Database: http://russianpoetsdatabase.blogspot.com/. This blog would probably not be considered an academic source, but all information presented is cited with various links. It covers the works and lives of 20th century Russian poets in an easy-to-read and -navigate form.
- Dictionary of Literary Biography. PS221 .D50 Reference, 1995-2005. This biographical series has several distinct volumes on Russian literature sprinkled throughout its collection, each one centered on a particular time period of writing. Each volume begins with a solid introduction to the literature world of the particular time period, including historical and cultural context, and provides long, detailed biographies of Russian authors, poets, and playwrights. Each collection has several images throughout, ranging from copies of drawings and paintings of writers and their books from older times to beautiful photographs of the more recent figures. The user would need to know which volume to use for a particular author, but each volume includes a cumulative index to make that process easy and painless. The volumes on Russian literature are listed below:
- Vol. 150, Early modern Russian writers: late-seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 1995.
- Vol. 198, Russian literature in the age of Pushkin and Gogol: Prose. 1999.
- Vol. 205, Russian literature in the age of Pushkin and Gogol: Poetry and drama. 1999.
- Vol. 238, Russian novelists in the age of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. 2001.
- Vol. 272, Russian prose writers between the world wars. 2003.
- Vol. 277, Russian literature in the Age of Realism. 2003.
- Vol. 285, Russian writers since 1980. 2003.
- Vol. 295, Russian writers of the Silver Age, 1890-1925. 2004.
- Vol. 302, Russian prose writers after World War II. 2005.
- Vol. 317, Twentieth-century Russian emigre writers. 2005.
- Encyclopedia of World Biography. Available through UK Electronic Resources. An advanced search for “Russian” and “literature” and “author” will yield many individual biographical articles on Russian authors and poets, as well as political and societal figures in literature.
- Free voices in Russian literature, 1950s-1980s : a bio-bibliographical guide. Z2511 .U5S930 1987 Reference, 1987. This concise resource has short biographies of many post-World War II Russian writers, including bibliographies of their works. There is a helpful index, as well as a listing of some of the best periodicals for doing research on these Russian writers.
- Geographical Sources
Recommended LC Subject Headings:
Moscow (Russia) - Maps
Russia (Federation) - History - Maps
Saint Petersburg (Russia) - Maps
Soviet Union - Maps
Soviet Union - History - Maps
Using maps of atlases of Russia and Russian culture would deeply enhance how one might understand various movements in Russian literature. Russian authors wrote about their cities as if they were separate characters entirely, and it would be very exciting to learn about these various cities and their impacts on writing.
- Cultural atlas of Russia and the Soviet Union. DK32 .M62 1989 4th floor, 1989. This atlas provides beautiful drawings, photographs, and maps all related to Russian culture and history. The atlas moves chronologically through history, sprinkling in information about literature and literary figures throughout, when appropriate. This resource would be extremely helpful for visualizing the broad expanses and the geography of Russia.
- Leningrad Street Guide. G2114.L4 U5 1977, King 2nd floor, 1977. This guide is intended for travelers to use while getting around town. It includes a subway map, a street guide, and a key for places of interest. Even if you can’t get to St. Petersburg in person, you can still explore this rich cultural city by map.
- Literary Map of Russia: http://www.litkarta.ru/ This interactive website is in Russian, but if using the Google Chrome browser, Google can translate much of it into English. Non-Russian readers won’t get everything, but it makes the site fairly usable. Clicking on an individual city will bring up information about its native authors, current literary culture, and literary pieces set in that city. Includes current literature, as well as classics.
- Moscow street guide. G2114 .M6 U47 1987 King 2nd floor, 1987. This guide, like the guide listed above for Leningrad, is intended for travelers to use while getting around town. It includes a subway map, a street guide, and a key for places of interest. Even if you can’t get to Moscow in person, you can still explore the city of your favorite Russian authors by map.
- Routledge Atlas of Russian History. G2111 .S1 G53 2007 King 2nd floor, 2007. This atlas provides pages and pages of maps relating to Russian historical movements and events. It showcases how much the area has changed as it falls under different rulers. There’s not a lot to do directly with literature, but this could be a useful tool to learn about which people ruled the area during a particular time period of a book or a literary event.
- U.S.S.R. G7001 .A1 1943 .U6 King Maps, 1943. This beautiful map outlines Russia in the middle of World War II. This was an interesting time period for the Russian people - it was the middle of the Soviet Union’s reign of control, as well as the middle of the German occupation of the rest of Europe. This map accurately displays how confusing and mixed up Europe was at the time.
- Periodical Articles
Russian Literature, being a field rooted in academia and literature, can be researched through several different approaches to database use. Much information and many sources can be found through using even some of the most basic periodical databases. This heading will explore several of the many options, as well as give tips to how to navigate each database with useful search terms.
- Academic Search Premier: This database is available online with access through UK Libraries, so you’ll either need to be on campus or have a proxy password to use it. Academic Search Premier is a great place to start your research because it’s fairly user-friendly. Even if you don’t know what you want to research, you can start with a basic subject heading like “Russian Literature” (make sure you change the field to SU Subject Terms). You can select the check box for “Full Text” to ensure that you can access the entire article through the database, as well as other options like publication date range, and image inclusion. The usefulness of Academic Search Premier really shines though once you actually perform a search. You’ll get a listing of returned items that meet your criteria, but you’ll also get a sidebar on the left with all sort of search tips and ways to narrow the results. One of the most useful pieces is the thesaurus, which provides other subject headings that might be similar to the one you’ve searched. For example, a search on “Russian Literature” will yield thesaurus results for “Soviet Literature,” “Authors, Russian,” and “Russian Literature - 19th Century.” You can check individual subject headings, and the result list will automatically update to the new specifications. The sidebar also has a list of publications represented in the search results, which could be very useful for finding groupings and similar articles and subjects. Perhaps one of the most user-friendly parts of the narrowing sidebar tools is that if you decide you want to remove one of the new limits, you can just click the X, and it updates your results accordingly without having to start a search over again.
- JSTOR: http://www.jstor.org/. This database is available with access through UK Libraries, so you’ll either need to be on campus or have a proxy password to use it. One of the easiest ways to get started (especially if you don’t yet have a particular topic in mind) is to search “Russian Literature” in the search box on the home page. This search will yield thousands of general results, from a variety of different kinds of periodicals. Though overwhelming, this high number is a good indicator that you can dig deeper to find what you really need. By navigating to the Advanced Search tab, you can narrow your results down by publication type, discipline type (there are options for both Language/Literature and Slavic Studies), and even language (to ensure you can actually read it!). Once inside a particular article, there’s even a link to the right to find similar articles or articles that cite the article (using Google Scholar). JSTOR would be a great place to begin developing your topic.
- Netlibrary: Netlibrary is UK’s online database of e-books. There are several books available online through this service about Russian literature, as well as Russian literature books themselves. You can search this database by supplying a keyword, author name, title, or subject. Searching for the subject “Russian literature” pulls up several good resources in the field. This database is available throuh the UK Library’s website, and requires a proxy ID to read any of the book. Also, like a physical library, netlibrary only has a limited number of copies of each book avaialable for viewing at one time, so you may have to wait a bit to get access to a particular popular source.
- WilsonWeb: This journal directory collects databases of periodicals that can be easily searched an accessed. WilsonWeb has a high emphasis on literature and literary sources, and could prove to be invaluable for your searching needs. The search fields are easy to navigate, and you can set certain limits and fields to narrow down your results to exactly what you need.
Knowing the particular journal you want can be extremely helpful when looking for specific information. Listed below are some of the most useful journals in the field:
- Russian Review
- Russian Studies in Literature
- Slavic Review: Interdisciplinary Quarterly of Russian, Eurasian, & East European Studies
- Slavonic & East European Review
- Government Sources
- The Russian State Library: http://www.rsl.ru/. This is the website for Russia’s official state library, maintained by the Russian government to serve the needs of Russian patrons and scholars of Russian studies. The site features a searchable online catalog, electronic resources, an E-library, research guides, events, programs, and publications. Like a few other resources in this guide, as expected, this website is in Russian. Using the Google Chrome browser, however, you can translate the content to make it usable. According to the site produced by the University of Sussex (as mentioned below in 10.b), the RSL even now has “an electronic courier system to send you copies of texts by email, fax, post.” One might need a fairly strong grasp on the Russian language to make this possible, but if applicable, this service could be tremendously helpful.
- A/V Materials
Many works in Russian literature have been made into fantastic movies or mini-series, and so if this is something that interests you or helps you to understand the material, you’re in luck. The UK Media Library, however, is not where you’ll find what you need. This is another great opportunity to become familiar with ILL. The easiest way to go about this search is to use WorldCat (available through the UK Libraries website) and perform your search. If you already know what title you need, you can search for that directly. For a general search, however, you can search the subject “Russian literature,” and limit types to Sound Recordings and Visual Materials. This search will yield hundreds of interesting results, including sound recordings of lectures on Russian literature as well. In addition to WorldCat, you can also try searching the catalogs of services like Netflix (http://movies.netflix.com/WiSearch?oq=&ac_posn=&v1=russia&search_submit=) or your local video store.
- Web Sites (other)
- Electronic Resources for Russian & East European Studies: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/Units/russian/bookmar2.htm. This meta-web site, produced by the University of Sussex Russian Society, lists several wonderful resources available on the web for information on all facts of Russian culture, including literature. Most of the resources are either from the U.K. or Russia, but are available on the web to any user.
- Fundamental Digital Library - Russian Literature & Folklore: http://feb-web.ru/indexen.htm. This powerful database contains reference materials and periodical articles about Russian literature, folklore, and fairy tales. The homepage and much of the navigation is in English, but as you dive deeper into the actual material, it is largely in Russian.
- Way to Russia: Russian Literature: http://www.waytorussia.net/WhatIsRussia/Literature.html. This website is primarily a resource about traveling to Russia, and what one may need to know or have in order to do so. It has much information about Russian culture, including literature. There are three separate pages for the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, including information on authors, literary styles, and reading lists. These pages, and the website as a whole, would be very interesting to anyone curious about Russian literature and cultural life.
- Research Centers/Important Collections
Some of the most important collections of primary and secondary sources in Russian literature located in our geographic area can be found through the libraries of various universities. These universities are well-known for their research centers and departments Russian culture. Highlights within relatively easy driving distance from Kentucky include:
- The Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: http://www.unc.edu/depts/slavic/ and http://www.unc.edu/depts/slavdept/. UNC hosts one of the most respected research centers for Russian studies in the country, and literature plays a big role in this research. The library’s Slavic and East European collection holds about 300,000 volumes.
- The Russian and East European Institute at Indiana University, Bloomington: http://www.indiana.edu/~reeiweb/index.shtml. According to the REEI’s website, the Russian/Soviet collection in the library contains about 280,000 volumes, and “ranks among the top research collections in the United States.”
- The Slavic and East European Studies Collections at the University of Chicago: http://guides.lib.uchicago.edu/slavic. This collection is home to the especially impressive Slavic Reference Collection, which holds over 7,500 volumes of specialized reference resources in Russian culture (including literature).
- The Slavic and East European Library at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: http://www.library.illinois.edu/spx/. This collection is a full-service library dedicated solely to Russian and Slavic culture, complete with dedicated librarians in this field. In addition to the physical space at the university, this library offers extensive online services, resources, and chat reference help. The collection also helps serve the needs of UI’s Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center, a well-respected research and study center in the field.
Like the research centers listed above, most experts in the field of Russian literature are affiliated with universities. Several of them have made themselves known on the Internet as people who other researchers may contact for help or dialogue. Listed below are a few of these individuals, and their contact information:
- Dr. Rajenda Chitnis, University of Bristol: R.A.Chitnis@bristol.ac.uk.
- Katherina Filips-Juswigg, University of Wisconsin: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dr. Andy Kaufman, University of Virginia: http://www.professorandy.com/index.shtml, email@example.com.
- Timothy D. Sergay, University at Albany: firstname.lastname@example.org.
UK is also lucky to have a Russian department with faculty members who are extremely knowledgeable on Russian literature, including:
- Dr. Gerald Janecek, email@example.com.
- Dr. Edward S. Lee, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dr. Jeanmarie Rouhier-Willoughby, email@example.com.
- Other Sources
- Baby’s Touch and Feel Guide to Russian Literature: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/2010/5/11kumar.html A humorous approach at summarizing some of the greatest Russian literary pieces, mostly in terms of touch. NOTE: This is not AT ALL a serious reference resource, but can provide a smile after a long day of researching Russian literature.
- Research Assistance
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the information presented, or if you need further assistance with your research. I sincerely hope that this pathfinder has been useful to your Russian literature research needs, and I wish you luck in your academic pursuits and endeavors!
School of Library and Information Science Graduate Student
University of Kentucky
For my pathfinder project, I chose to focus on 19th and 20th century Russian literature. It’s a topic very near and dear to my heart, and I was (and still am) excited to be able to help share it with the world. I fell in love with Russian literature after picking up a book of Nikolai Gogol’s short stories at a thrift shop while on vacation in high school, just because I liked the cover. I devoured the collection in about a day, completely enthralled with the great humor, spirit, and description I found. I loved being transported to another world, and another culture completely different from my own. I was fortunate enough to be able to take a couple classes on Russian literature and culture during my undergraduate studies at Indiana University and the University of Kentucky, but as I got further into my major studies, my love of the great Russian writers was often buried in studies of audio production and telecommunications policy. I don’t think I’ve read any Russian literature in the past three or four years, yet it always seems to be alive in my heart, trying to pump its way back into my reading list. Working on this pathfinder has really rekindled my love for the field, and I can’t wait to dive into some Dostoevsky over the holiday break.
Though the idea of Russian literature really encompasses anything written by Russians at any point, I chose to mainly focus on the 19th and 20th centuries, because I think they’re the most exciting. These time periods also seem to be the most studied by students. The 19th century was all about setting the scene. Poets and long prose writers alike created a lush and rich literary landscape. Description and detail were key, almost like opening vivid portals into the lives and the time of these pioneers. The end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century was easily one of the most exciting periods in Russian history, as revolutionaries were preparing to take over the government. The tsar, and the idea of a tsarist regime, was thrown out the window, making way for the will of the people. What this actually led to in practice, however, was the incredibly oppressive Soviet Union, and its strict censorship. Most writers in the 20th century were forced to go underground, writing for Samizdat (secret, hand-copied and privately-distributed) publications. Writers had to be extremely careful about how they published work during this period – one wrong move or sentence could lead to prison or worse. Despite these hardships and scary times, amazing works of literature were created that will leave a lasting impression on Europe and the world forever. Russian literature may have come onto the scene rather late by European standards, but it definitely makes up any slack and then some with the quality of writing.
When finding my sources and putting together my pathfinder, I kept remembering the experiences I had in my undergraduate Russian literature and culture classes, and how I wish I had known how to use the library so effectively. I wrote many papers on works and authors that could have been greatly improved with the right kinds of biographical resources, and definitely could have picked more interesting topics with the use of a subject encyclopedia. Even exploring the stacks and call number ranges for this project, I was completely inspired by all of the primary and secondary source material that’s available. I had no idea at the time. So, when I was thinking about what kind of audience I wanted for my pathfinder, I basically chose 2003/2004-me, my classmates, and anyone else with a slight general interest in the field. I tried to keep the scope of my resources to a level that could keep up with a serious academic project, but still wouldn’t be too overwhelming for someone new to the field. One of the hardest issues that I had to deal with in this process was the language barrier. As I mention in the pathfinder, there’s no getting around the fact that so many great resources on Russian literature are available only in Russian. This unfortunate fact can make deep research sometimes pretty limiting and frustrating to the average non-Russian reader. It seems like if you’re really serious about the topic, you’re just going to have to learn Russian, period. I tried to keep my resources almost right on this line, even including a couple online resources that were in Russian, but including instructions on how pages can be translated into fairly useable English.
As I wanted to write this pathfinder for college undergraduates, I decided to use the UK Library collection as a whole. The majority of my truly academic resources come from either the Young Library Reference stacks or UK Electronic Resources. Some of my resources were located in other areas of Young (the 4th floor stacks in particular), and most of my geographic print resources were actually from the King Science Library. As I explained in my introduction, print sources were located in Young Reference, unless otherwise indicated. I was actually fairly surprised with the collection of Russian Literature reference materials available at Young and through Electronic Resources. UK has a Russian department, but it’s rather small compared to other state schools in our general geographic region. Most of the resources that I found through WorldCat, or through Literature Guides published by other universities had a home somewhere in the UK Library system, even if they weren’t all in one place. I also knew that anything that UK didn’t actually physically have could probably be obtained through ILL, which I explained in my section on Locating Books. Once I actually got into the stacks, I was certainly impressed by the vast number of primary, secondary, and reference sources available. I definitely used call number groupings to my advantage, and often found two or three equally great resources after going in to find one particular book I’d located through InfoKat. I think that the students doing this kind of research would have these same experiences and be able to find all kinds of useful information.
When I was gathering information, it was sometimes difficult to choose which particular source to include. I knew that I wanted to have a good mix of online and print sources, since both would be useful to students for different purposes, so at times, I used that as a factor. For some resource types, however, the best information was often skewed into one of these types of sources. I decided to worry less about individual type balances and focus on the larger picture – could a user collect good information using strictly either online or print sources, if they decided that they preferred one to the other? I hope that I achieved this balance. When writing my annotations and my research tips for each section, keeping my former self in my for the audience, I thought about what I would want to know about each source – why should I use it? What information will it give me? Does it have a particular slant, personality, or agenda? Is there something I can learn from this that I can’t find anywhere else? I think that answering these sorts of questions really makes the information come alive to the user. To aid my users further, I also decided to sprinkle suggested LC subject headings throughout each section. I felt that this approach kept the guide more organized, breaking down each information type into its own space. My pathfinder was organized primarily along the lines of the assignment, but I basically just tried to group like topics and sources with each other. I feel that keeping each information type individually organized and neat keeps the whole piece useable and easy to navigate. While I didn’t have a chance to put my pathfinder up on the Internet before the assignment was due, this is definitely something I want to work on over the holiday break. I feel (and hope) that the organization and collection of these resources could be helpful to anyone studying this topic, even if not through the UK Library system since most everything is also listed on WorldCat.
I think that working on this project really opened my eyes to the idea that librarians have a huge responsibility in research instruction. The library has so many wonderful, valuable and useful resources – but they can’t help anyone who doesn’t know where or how to find them. I can definitely see the value in creating pathfinders for a variety of topics, especially for those reference questions most asked in a particular library. While I was working on this pathfinder, one of my coworkers actually asked if I could help her find information on cancer research – I pointed her to one of the existing pathfinders through the UK Medical Center Library and she had great success using it to find information for her paper. I think that if I was working on a pathfinder actually on the job, I would definitely try to put it up on the web from the beginning. More and more people are turning to the Internet for their information needs, and having this kind of information available to people from the comforts of their own homes would really encourage its use. I think that I would also want to make it more visual, either with photographs, pictures of book covers, or even just charts. I feel like this is an opportunity with my pathfinder, and is something that could possibly be used to draw more user attention and interest. Overall, though it sometimes seemed overwhelming, I feel fairly pleased with the work that I did for my pathfinder. I enjoyed the process of researching and collecting sources, mostly because I kept thinking about how much this kind of information could help someone learn. I was passionate about my topic and excited to be able to share it with potential users. Though I imagine that making a pathfinder for a completely unfamiliar topic would be more daunting and stressful, I realize it would also aid widely in broadening and expanding one’s knowledge base. I also feel that working on this project really helped me become familiar with different kinds of reference materials and generalities of using the library system for research. I’m glad that I was able to have this experience, and can definitely see how it will aid me in my future career.