Skip to main content
Skip Navigation LinksHome > Alumnae Continuing Education > Course B. Exploring the Human Condition through Russian Stories (Dateless)
Northwestern University |  Ticketing

Northwestern University | Ticketing

If you are a student or faculty/staff, please login before continuing. This will allow you to access any ticketing benefits that you are entitled to.

Course B. Exploring the Human Condition through Russian Stories

Alumnae Continuing Education

Course B. Exploring the Human Condition through Russian Stories

Tuesdays, 1:00-2:30 p.m. (CDT)

Instructor: Gary Saul Morson, Lawrence B. Dumas Professor of the Arts and Humanities; Professor, Slavic Languages and Literatures

This course meets on Tuesday afternoons beginning on June 22. 

Russian literature is famous for addressing ultimate philosophical questions, like: the meaning of life, the significance of death, the basis of ethics and responsibility, the essence of the human, and the nature of choice and intentions. Russian stories often show people struggling with such questions or allow the reader to do so. The extreme conditions of the Soviet period sharpened these questions. The stories (and a few story-like essays) below are organized both by author and by questions.

June 22  Death Reveals Life

Leo Tolstoy, “The Death of Ivan Ilych”

Jun. 29  Anton Chekhov Answers Tolstoy, “A Dreary Story,” and Fyodor Dostoevsky, Choice and Responsibility

Extracts from A Writer’s Diary (abridged edition)
“Environment,” pp. 10-24
“Spiritualism,” pp. 115-122
Articles on the Kairova case, pp. 165-172
“A Lie Is Saved By a Lie,” pp. 448-51

Jul. 6 Chekhov: Stories about Empathy

“Nervous Breakdown”
“The Bishop”

Jul. 13 Chekhov: Stories about Ideas

“On the Road”
“In Exile”

Jul. 20 Extreme Conditions Reveal the Irreducibly Human

Isaac Babel, stories from Red Cavalry
“Crossing Into Poland”
“The Road to Brody”
“The Death of Dolgushov”
“The Life and Adventures of Matthew Pavlichenko”
“After the Battle”
Varlam Shalamov, from Kolyma Tales
“In the Night”
“Cherry Brandy”
“A Day Off”
“My First Tooth”
“Prosthetic Appliances”

Jul. 27 Mystery and Meaning

Chekhov, “The Lady with the Dog”
Chekhov’s trilogy: “The Man in a Case,” “Gooseberries,” “About Love”
“The Student”
Tolstoy, “God Sees the Truth, But Waits to Tell”
“What Men Live By”

Recommended Books: Please be sure to use the translations listed below.

Babel: The Collected Stories of Isaac Babel, translated by Walter Morison (  If unavailable, Isaac Babel, The Essential Fictions, translated by Val Vinokur

Chekhov: Chekhov’s stories may be found in volumes from the 13-volume set of Chekhov’s stories translated by Constance Garnett ( These volumes are available separately either in paperback or free on Kindle:
“The Bishop” in volume 8, “The Bishop and Other Stories”
“Dreary Story” in volume 5, “The Wife and Other Stories”
“Enemies” in volume 11, “The Schoolmaster and Other Stories.”
“Happiness” in volume 6, “The Witch and Other Stories”
“In Exile” in volume 9, “The Schoolmistress and Other Stories”
“The Lady with the Dog,” volume 3, “The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories”
“Lights” in volume 13, “Love and Other Stories”
“Misery” in volume 9, “The Schoolmistress and Other Stories”
“Nervous Breakdown” in volume 8, “The Chorus Girl and Other Stories”
“On the Road” in volume 8, “The Bishop and Other Stories”
“The Student” in volume 6, “The Witch and Other Stories”
“Vanka” in volume 12, “The Cook’s Wedding and Other Stories”
Trilogy stories in volume 5, “The Wife and Other Stories”

Dostoevsky: A Writer’s Diary, abridged edition (

Shalamov: Kolyma Tales, translated by John Glad (

Tolstoy: For “The Death of Ivan Ilych” – use the Maude translation, which can be found in Leo Tolstoy, Great Short Works (

For “God Sees the Truth” and “What Men Live By” – use the Maude translation, available in The Portable Tolstoy or Collected Shorter Fiction, volume 1 (

Information is subject to change. Full course and policy descriptions are available at


• Each 6-week online course is $100.00.  Registration pays for access to a live webinar and limited-time access to a recording of each week’s 90-minute session.

• There are no multi-course discounts.

Per Diem pricing is not available for these courses.


• Registrations can only be purchased online at  A payment card is required.  No other forms of payment can be accepted at this time.  Neither the Norris Box Office nor the Alumnae Continuing Education group can process any other type of registration payment.  There are no exceptions.

• After registering for a course, you should receive a registration confirmation message from  It will be sent to the email address associated with your profile.  Though it is not your entry to the ZOOM class, it is important that you locate the confirmation as soon as possible. If you don't receive an email, it could mean that there is a problem with how your email address is listed in our system.  A typo in your email address could result in the Zoom link being lost.  You can correct your information by logging in at, clicking on your name in the purple bar at the top, and then on Edit Profile.

• To access the first webinar on June 22, your online registration must be completed by midnight, Thursday, June 17, 2021. If you register on June 18 or later, we cannot guarantee timely entry to the course on June 22, the first day.

• Your registration automatically includes temporary access to a recording of each remaining livestream session in the course.  You will be sent a separate link with a passcode to give you access to the recording for six days, ending when the next session begins. If you register late, you may not have access to recordings of livestreamed sessions that took place prior to your registration.

Your Zoom link and passcode are specific to your email and may not be shared.  Sharing your links may void your registration without refund.

• Given the limitations presented by the pandemic, support from customer service will be limited to email correspondence.  Please use the Help Form for assistance with any service issues.

• No new registrations will be accepted after July 8, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. Late registrations are not prorated for missed sessions and will not allow for access to expired recordings.

    Linking to Live Sessions

    • You will be emailed a Zoom link invitation for each session on the Friday before the session is scheduled to be livestreamed.  The invitation will be sent from Norris Box Office <>. You will also receive an email reminder with the link one hour prior to the start of each session. Please check your spam, junk folder, or deleted messages if you don't see the email in your inbox.

    • Plan on clicking on the Zoom link and joining the online session at least 10 minutes before the session begins.

    Your Zoom link is specific to your email address and may not be shared.

    • For a detailed guide on using Zoom, please click on the Alumnae Continuing Education Zoom Guide here.

    Limited Access to Recorded Sessions

    • If you cannot attend the live-streaming of the session, you may still view the recorded session for a limited time.

    • You will be sent a separate link with a passcode to give you access to the recording of the session for six days, ending when the next session begins. 

    • Your Zoom link and passcode are specific to your email and may not be shared.

      • Recordings CANNOT be downloaded.

      Refund Policy

      • If you intend to withdraw from a course, you must purchase a $10.00 cancellation fee by Sunday, June 20, 2021. A full refund will be processed to the payment card used for the initial purchase.

      • Registrations purchased after June 20 cannot be refunded.

      • No refunds will be given once the first webinar begins.

      • Credits are not given for future classes.

      • Contact the if you would like to transfer to another class offered during the same quarter.  There is no additional cost.  But you will have to wait until the following week to access the new course links.  Transfers may not be possible after the registration period ends.

      Share Via

      Registration Options

      Single Course Registration

      Registration TypePriceQuantity
      General Public
      First Year
      Graduate Student
      NU Employee
      NU Affiliate
      Non-Degree Student
      Kellogg Student
      Medical Student
      Law Student
      New NU

      Event Location
      Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive Evanston, IL 60208

      Open in Google Maps