Course ObjectiveThe student is able to:
1. reproduce the main insights of the author Dostoyevsky in relation to
2. do literature research into the historical context and place in the
history of ideas of this classic;
3. give a scholarly analysis and discussion of the form and rhetorical
flow of the text;
4. describe and present the main argumentative steps in a specific part
of this classic, and evaluate their coherence with other aspects of the
5. discern anomalies and ambiguities in the text and bring them to bear
on the argumentative power;
6. apply insights from this classic to texts of other authors;
7. reflect on ways of approaching this text from the perspective of
one’s own specific methodology within theology and/or religious studies;
8. analyze religious phenomena from the perspective of reading this
classic work so as to stimulate discussion in a community of readers;
9. confront ideas proposed by the author of the classic with one’s own
10. organize the material in a logical fashion, pick out the key issues
and present those to the reading community;
11. reflect critically on and develop his/her skills in reading classics
in a scholarly and independent way.
Course ContentIn this course, research master students and divinity students read an
absolute top classic that is relevant for the field of theology and/or
studies. This year we read Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov.
Teaching MethodsSeminar, including group sessions, presentations, plenary close reading.
Method of AssessmentBEFORE THE COURSE: the student reads the whole novel The Brothers
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, if desirable in his/her native language. As to
the translations: a reasonable English translation is made by Constance
Garnett, see free download at:
And in Dutch I really like that of Arthur Langeveld, though this
translation very obviously shows that the translator is an atheist.
BEFORE THE CLASSES: the student reads the indicated chapters of Fyodor
Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov; Katya Tolstaya’s Kaleidoscope,
‘Deification’, and ‘The Loss of Imago Dei’.
Oral presentations and feedback on them will be part of this course, and
will be 50% of the mark of the course. Every student has to make sure to
present her work at least once during this period.
The other 50% will consist of a paper. The length of the paper should be
between 2000 and 2300 words and should:
- address a theme from Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov like theodicy and
freedom, love and discipline, belief and atheism, crime and
- pose a research question related to your religious tradition and/or a
phenomenon in your field of research;
- critically discuss the explanatory power of Dostoevsky’s artistic
world and polyphonic voices and bring these in conversation with
theoretical, philosophical and theological perspectives.
Criteria for evaluating the paper: a clear, coherent, well-defined,
concise text with relevant research question(s), justification for the
choice of at least one particular methodology, and relevant
bibliography, transparently composed answers to the research question(s)
in a well-documented manner (i.e. with detailed
references to the texts, and interacting with relevant literature),
clear conclusions, adequate bibliographical annotations and layout.
Criteria for evaluating presentations in class:
- Keeps to the time;
- Clear question, steps to answer it, clear conclusion;
- Overall understanding of the novel, its content and context.
- Engaging the others;
- Using audiovisual tools efficiently (when applicable).
All students are asked to respond contribute to the discussions on
Canvas and in class.
LiteratureFyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov;
Katya Tolstaya, Kaleidoscope, ‘Deification’, and ‘The Loss of Imago
Target AudienceThis course is part of the Research Master and of the Divinity Master.
It is open for all other students.
Recommended background knowledgeIn the class I will give special attention to cultural aspects. But I
can imagine that particularly Russian names and relations of characters
to each other will be troubling. I will learn you how to pronounce the
names approximately reasonably, but it’s difficult to understand who is
who, because Russians use the patronymics (father’s first names with a
suffix behind one’s own first name alongside the first names and
nicknames). So you might profit from this list of characters with
explanation in English:
|Language of Tuition||English|
|Faculty||Faculty of Religion and Theology|
|Course Coordinator||dr. E.V. Tolstoj|
|Examiner||dr. E.V. Tolstoj|
dr. E.V. Tolstoj
You need to register for this course yourself
Last-minute registration is available for this course.
This course is also available as: