Writers and Intellectuals of Central Asia Under Soviet Colonialism
Central Asian writers and intellectuals, considered the leaders of their societies, lived during Soviet times under constant surveillance and fear. Thousands of them were executed or perished in the gulags (prison camps) under Stalin‘s order. Between 1937-1938 the Kazakhs alone lost over 60,000 members of their intellectual elite. One of the sayings that circulated among intellectuals in the Soviet Union was: ――Don‘t think! If you think, don‘t speak! If you speak, don‘t write! If you write, don‘t publish!‖‖ Indeed, any word spoken or written was subject to severe censorship. However, many Central Asian poets and writers courageously continued to speak up and found ways to circumvent the censors by using expressions with inside meanings, particularly when they wrote in their national languages.
The course will discuss mainly the works and lives of Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Turkmen writers and intellectuals during 1) the period from 1917 until Stalin‘‘s death in 1952, 2) the post -Stalin period 1953-1985 and 3) the period of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring), 1985-1991.
One midterm essay quiz and one research paper. The topic and a brief outline of the paper are due by the 6th week. The final version of the paper is due on the last day of finals week.