Russian Literature in Musical Adaptation

CRN 30968 / Mo 2:30-5:25 PM / W W Posvar Hall 

This course explores how music and literature interact or influence each other. As knowledge of music theory is not a prerequisite for this course, we will first build critical vocabulary to speak about music before studying examples of “transposition” – the retelling of a narrative in a different genre. We will consider the relationship from both directions: literature set to music and representations of music in literature. We will read, for example, plays and stories that are based on composers (such as Pushkin’s Mozart and Salieri). Additionally, we will explore the thematic use of music in short stories and novellas, such as the role of Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata in Tolstoy’s eponymous novella. We will consider the following overarching questions: what are the literary and artistic implications when a story gets retold in a different genre? Does the composer stay faithful to the text or change it significantly to better align with his artistic agenda? What is the effect of reading a literary text in comparison to seeing its musical counterpart?

Number of Credits


Tony Lin

Course Term


Course Category

Category D: Designated Courses

Course Year