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SCAND 153 A: Introduction To Lithuanian Literary And Cultural History

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
MGH 271

Syllabus Description:


Introduction to Lithuanian Literary and Cultural History


Winter 2017


Eglė Žurauskaitė, Visiting Lecturer of Lithuanian

Office: Rait Hall 305 W

Phone: (206)-799-2371

Office hours: Mondays 11-12 am or by appointment




Meeting times: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30 – 2:20 pm. Mary Gates Hall, 271



Course Overview and Content: The aim of this course is to give an introduction to the Lithuanian culture in general: Lithuanian folklore, ancient religion (Lithuania was the last pagan country in Europe), major literature works from the Renaissance period to present, as reflected in art and literature. The course complements other introductory courses in the Department of Scandinavian Studies curriculum, namely SCAND 152 (Latvian Literary and Cultural History), SCAND 155 (Danish Literary and Cultural History), SCAND 150 (Norwegian Literary and Cultural History) and SCAND 151 (Finnish Literary and Cultural History).

Further, a component of linguistics and language history (an overview of the relation of Lithuanian to Sanskrit, Latin and Latvian languages) is included in the course curriculum.


This course is structured with works read in English translation and with a curriculum of general interest to students from across campus, as well as a foundational course for students in the Lithuanian minor or Scandinavian Area Studies Major.


Having completed the course students will have a general understanding about the most important historical events of Lithuania, the traditional culture of Lithuania, with the selected works of Donelaitis, Maironis, Krėvė, Biliūnas, Milošas, Čiurlionis, Nėris, Aputis and other Lithuanian authors and artists.





Student Learning Objectives:

  • To gain a knowledge of Lithuania in a cultural, literary, historical and social context.
  • To develop skills for interpreting and writing about literary texts and films.

By the end of the course, students will be able to compare and contrast Lithuanian society, literature and culture with other societies, literatures, and cultures, including their own, and be able to speak and write knowledgably about Lithuanian culture and society.

Course Structure:

Lectures: Short lectures and presentations followed by discussions and analysis will be a major component of this class. Lectures and student’s presentations will consist of the presentations on topics and themes relating to the assigned reading and curriculum – Lithuanian history, mythology, music, literature and culture. Lectures will occasionally be supplemented by films, music and videos and guest lecturers in areas of particular expertise. 

Requirements: participation in class discussions, reading of all assignment works. You should have the reading completed by the day that it is listed in the syllabus.

Participation: almost the half of the course is based on discussion. You should be prepared to discuss and to analyze the reading assignment and to give your comments on it.

Evaluation and Grading

The course grade for this class will be calculated as follows:

  • Participation in class discussions:                                                                                20 %
  • Presentation or project                                                                                                 20%                                                            
  • Midterm exam (February 2, Tuesday)                                                            30%
  • Final exam (March 9, Thursday)  Covers material studied after the Midterm exam) 30%


Exam Format:

The exams will include multiple choice questions as well as a set of conceptual questions which address the assigned reading. The conceptual questions are answered in the form of a short essay, written in class. Papers will be evaluated on the basis of clear presentation and argumentation, as well as on the use of specific examples and references to selected text. 


Presentation or project: is the short (approx. 10 min.) summary or review on a book, movie or on a topic related to Lithuanian history, mythology, music, theater, food, national costume, holidays, politics etc. of your choice (after consultation). Look at “Further Readings” for some themes you may like. Creating your own project on a Lithuanian topic that  interests you is very welcome.  


Required material: available on the Catalyst




Proposed course Schedule and Reading Assignments

This page will be slightly changed during the quarter. To help you find the new things, I will use the red color. Be sure you find time to check this page for changes before every class.


Week One

January 3, Tuesday





January 5,


Course Introduction

Country Introduction: geography, short history, landscape, people




Last Pagan State in Europe. Ancient Lithuanian Mythology and Religion

Read:  Lithuanian Folktale Eglė. The Story of Spruce



Week Two

January 10, Tuesday






January 12,


From Folklore to Literary Works

Read: Kazys Boruta. The Whitehorn’s Windmill (excerpt)

         2) The Legend of Jūratė and Kastytis

        3) Maironis Jūratė and Kastytis


Golden Age of Grand Duchy of Lithuania: from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea

Read: 1) Maironis Trakai Castle,  2) News has come,

         3) Evening on the Lake of the Four Forest Cantons 4) Kazys Boruta. The Whitehorn’s Windmill (excerpt)



Week Three

January 17,






January 19,


Golden Age of Grand Duchy of Lithuania: from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea

Read: 1) Maironis Trakai Castle,  2) News has come,

         3) Evening on the Lake of the Four Forest Cantons






Deeper in the Culture

·         Polyphonic Songs Sutartinės

·         Carved Roadside Crosses

·         Donelaitis’ Hexameter - Epic Poem “The Seasons”





Week Four

January 24, Tuesday




January 26,




 Movie Thursday: Lithuania`s first musicle Devil`s bride.



Week Five

January 31,






February 2,


Birth of Lithuanian Fiction

Read: Kristijonas Donelaitis “The Seasons” (excerpt)



 Deportations and resistance. 

Read: "Lithuanians by the Laptev Sea" by Dalia Grinkevičiūtė'

Preparation for the midterm test



Week Six

February 7,








February 9, Thursday






Lithuanian Language – the Oldest Living Indo-European Language

Read: 1) Mikalojus Daukša Postilla (excerpt)

          2) Georg Sauerwein How wondrously it moves my heart


Week Seven

February 14,





February 16,


The Art of M. K. Čiurlionis

  • M. K. Čiurlionis – painter

Read: 1) Salomėja Nėris Friendship, Spring, Dandelion    2) Janina Degutytė On the Themes of M. K. Čiurlionis’ Sonata of the Sun. FINALE



 Movie Thursday: "Letters to Sofia"



Week Eight

Februray 21,





February 23,


Literature under Soviets

Read: 1) Ričardas Gavelis Vilnius Poker (excerpt)

          2) Martinaitis The Ballads of Kukutis

Students‘ presentations


 Guest speaker: Evaldas Klimas (visiting Fulbright researcher at Scvhool of Law). "Democraacy in Lithuania: from formality to reality"


Students‘ presentations


Week Nine

February 28 ,






March 2,




Guest speaker: Liina-Ly Ross (T.A. of Estonian language)


Students‘ presentations




Students‘ presentations



Week Ten

March 7, Tuesday





March 9,





Students‘ presentations


Final Test 




Further Reading


Grigorijus Potašenko, The peoples of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Zigmantas Kiaupa, The History of Lithuania. 

Aldis Purs, Baltic Facades: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since 1945, 2013

Marija Gimbutas, The Balts

John Hiden and Patrick Salmon, The Baltic Nations and Europe

Anatol Lieven, The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence

Thomas Oleszczuk, Political Justice in the Soviet Union: Dissent and Repression in Lithuania, 1969-1987

Tomas Remeikis, Opposition to Soviet Rule in Lithuania: 1940-1980

Alfred Erich Senn, The Emergence of Modern Lithuania

Alfred Erich Senn, Lithuania Awakening

Alexandra Asbourne, Lithuania: The Rebirth of a Nation, 1999

Davies Norman, Europe: a history, London, 1997.

Eidintas Alfonsas, Lithuania in European politics : the years of the first Republic, 1918-1940, 2003.

Rowell Stephen Christopher, A history of Lithuania, Vilnius, 2002.


Mythology and Folklore:

Lithuanian mythological tales [compiled by Norbertas Vėlius], 1998

Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess

Algirdas J. Greimas, Of Gods and Men



Ezra Mendelsohn, The Jews of East Central Europe between the World Wars

Czesław Milosz, The Captive Mind

Czesław Milosz, The Valley of the Issa

Nijole Sadunaite, Radiance in the Gulag

  1. Alina Skrupskelis, Lithuanian Writers in the West

Jonas Mekas, I Had Nowhere to Go: [diaries, 1944-1954], 1991

Balys Sruoga, The Forest of Gods, 2005

Matilda Strimaityte-Meliene, Crosses in the Arctic: A Lithuanian Woman Survives the Gulag

Rimvydas Silbajoris, Perfection of Exile: Fourteen Lithuanian Émigré Writers

Norbertas Velius, The World Outlook of the Ancient Balts

Jonas Mekas, Letters From Nowhere: [diaries], 2003

Ričardas Gavelis, Vilnius Poker: [novel], 2009

Vanda Juknaitė, My Voices Betrays Me: [essays, conversations], 2007

Juozas Lukša, Forest Brothers: [memoir], 2009

Antanas Sileika, Underground: [novel], 2010

Kazys Boruta, Whitehorn's Windmill: [novel], 2010

Daiva Markelis, White Fields, Black Sheep, 2010: [literary memoir] (Chicago University Press)

Ruta Sepetys, Between Shades of Grey: [novel], 2011

About music:

Vytautas Landsbergis, M.K. Čiurlionis: time and content.

Traditional music and research in the Baltic area : new approaches in ethnomusicology / edited by R. Astrauskas.


Web links and films:


Unseen Lithuania

Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth

Lithuanian Multipart Songs


Film “Red Terror on the Amber Coast”


Lithuanian anthem


The Baltic Way August 23, 1989



Famous Lithuanians:


Čiurlionis’ music


Čiurlionis’ paintings



Catalog Description: 
Surveys Lithuanian literary and cultural history from the Medieval period to the present. Authors include Dauksa, Maironis, Biliunas, Ciurloinis, Boruta, Granauskas, Aputis, Vilimaite, Milosz, and others.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
August 7, 2017 - 9:16pm