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SCAND 345 A: Baltic Cultures

Meeting Time: 
TTh 12:30pm - 2:20pm
* *
Joint Sections: 
JSIS A 345 A
Photo of Guntis Smidchens
Guntis Šmidchens

Syllabus Description:

JSIS A 345 / SCAND 345: Baltic Cultures (VLPA/I&S)

Instructor: Guntis Šmidchens,

  • Class meetings are scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:30-2:20 in Sieg Hall 226
  • Autumn 2020 plans regarding in-class or online instuction have not been confirmed. If you have questions regarding class meetings, please write to the instructor, 
  • Please keep the scheduled time slot open in your calendar, and watch this website for updates. 
    • It is likely that some, maybe all class meetings will be online. 
    • It is likely that some, maybe all lectures will be recorded and available to students who cannot attend in-person meetings at the scheduled time.   

Course Description

This course gives a broad introduction to the cultures of the Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians.  Baltic folklore, literature, music and film will be studied in its historical context, exploring the relation between people and culture in the Baltic countries.

Course Objectives

  • Read some books by Baltic authors (Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian)
  • Read and discuss selected songs, poems and stories, listen to music, see pictures and videos created by people in the Baltic
  • Investigate connections between these works and people in the Baltic: How are they related to history and identity?
  • Develop skills to interpret, critique and perform literature and art

Required Readings

  • Andrus Kivirähk, The Man Who Spoke Snakish (2007, translated 2015)
  • Žemaitė, Marriage for Love (2020)
  • Selected readings and films posted on this Canvas website


  • Grading rubric will be based on take-home /open-book exam essays about assigned readings;
  • Participation/contribution to class discussions, in-person and/or online.
  • Final Exam/Literary Slam: Read/Perform a work of Baltic Culture!;  

Please send questions to

Catalog Description: 
Cultures and peoples of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Baltic literature, music, art, and film in social and historical context. Traditional contacts with Scandinavia and Central and East Europe. Offered: jointly with JSIS A 345.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
June 19, 2020 - 9:22pm