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Students in the Creative Writing in Russian course (Russian 71, W19) – Liza Begunova, Amanda Durfee, Eugene Lovejoy, Hallie Sala, and Stephen Sudia – collaboratively wrote a 180-page long epistolary novel entirely in Russian. Each student wrote the letters for one of the characters in the novel and created that character's backstory, personality, distinctive writing style, and story arc. Other participants in the project included Teaching Assistant Misha Tovmashenko and two college students from Moscow, Russia: Valentina Zhukova and Victoria Pechnikova.
The jumping off point for the project was Shakespeare's Hamlet reconfigured as a Moscow college student learning that his father was framed for a murder and imprisoned by his new stepfather who is now the Director of Channel One Russia, the Russian Federation's main country-wide TV channel. As the story develops and the different characters exchange letters and emails, the son gathers evidence and plans his revenge, assisted or opposed by the other characters in the novel. While the setting and characters are contemporary Russia and Russians, the novel features many allusions to Shakespeare with the final exposure of the stepfather-murderer taking place on the stage of a Moscow theater. The students titled the novel A Hamlet of Our Time, translated as Гамлет нашего времени, which is a play on the title of Mikhail Lermontov's celebrated 19th-century novel A Hero of Our Time.
All writers received a bound copy of the final manuscript and a copy is also available in the Russian Department seminar room. Russian 71 (Creative Writing in Russian) will be offered again in Spring'20 and built around a different topic – if you are interested in creative writing in Russian, please contact [email protected]. The course is open to advance learners of Russian as well as heritage and native speakers of Russian.