CSLC 131 Slavic Pagan Culture and its Legacy

The worldview and beliefs of the early Slavs, particularly the Eastern Slavs, were a complex synthesis of influences: Indo-European mythology, Central Asian shamanism, Scythian animal worship, and, ultimately, a "paganized" version of Christianity labeled by cultural historians as "dvoeverie" (double faith). This course examines all aspects of this culture as it developed in the years 800-1600, in order to understand how these people viewed the world, and how this affected their lives and the development of Slavic culture. Communal village life, legends, folk genres and mythology, their sources, and their legacies, are examined. There is a close study of the phenomenon of the vampire, following its evolution from the Iron Age into 18th century Serbia, as a specific case study of how myths are born and persist. The ways in which pagan beliefs were incorporated into Christianity to create the "dual-faith" of the Russian peasant are examined, as well. In addition to analytical and historical texts, readings include tales of supernatural beings and phenomena, as well as testimony concerning encounters with the supernatural.

Credits

4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • Regional Focus
  • Pre-1800