Dostoevsky’s Demons: Satire and Prophecy

Benjamin Jens
Wednesdays 10 AM - 12 PM
May 17, 24, 31, June 7, 14, 21, 2023
Watch the video to learn more about this course

Dostoevsky’s Demons: Satire and Prophecy

Summer 2023
In Session
10 AM - 12 PM
May 17, 24, 31, June 7, 14, 21, 2023


Main Campus



Dostoevsky’s Demons (1872) – according to Alexander Solzhenitsyn in 1970 – “are crawling across the whole world in front of our very eyes, infesting countries where they could not have been dreamed of” and “announcing their determination to shake and destroy civilization! And they may well succeed.” Often viewed as prophesying the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Dostoevsky’s satirical novel Demons has been read as a warning for the 21st century as well, with its themes of terrorism, the role of ideology, the power of rumor and “fake news”, etc. Throughout this course, we will examine Demons in the context of its era, exploring the biographical events, cultural influences, sources, and themes that helped form Dostoevsky’s intense exploration of the source of evil - whether psychological, something external, or metaphysical – and how to combat it. The course will end with an examination of Dostoevsky’s post-Demons ideas and works, as well as his larger cultural legacy and impact.

Attend ON-CAMPUS or Online
— Hybrid Course Format —

  • All classes will be delivered on-campus and online via live video streaming. Students will enroll in their preferred format during registration.
  • On-Campus classes will be held in the Rubel Room at the University of Arizona's Poetry Center (1508 E Helen St, Tucson, AZ 85721). Enrollment for in-person classes is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. All students enrolled to attend in person also have complete online access and may choose to attend one or all class sessions remotely if desired.
  • Online students may attend all classes via live video streaming and will be able to participate in all course Q&A sessions with the professor in real-time. A high-speed internet connection and a device capable of running Zoom are required to connect. Online access will be password protected and only available to enrolled students.
  • Class Recordings - All HSP classes are recorded and available for every enrolled student to watch for the duration of the course and one month after the last class session. This option is offered to aid students who cannot attend the live class times but desire to enroll and participate asynchronously. We hope this option also aids students who are traveling or have a necessary appointment that conflicts with a class session to stay connected and engaged with the course material.

Registration Will Open Online:
Monday, April 10, 2023, at 8 AM (AZ Time)

Required Reading: 

  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, Demons. Preferably either the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation (Vintage Classics) or the Katz translation (Oxford), but any translation will do.

Meet Your Professor

Assistant Professor

Benjamin Jens received his Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His main area of research is 19th-century Russian literature – especially the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky – with a focus on the relationship between literature, discourse, and Eastern Orthodoxy. He also has research interests in Eastern European cinema, science fiction, and cultural ties between the Western Balkans and Russia. Dr. Jens is also the director of the Arizona in Russia study abroad program in Moscow, Russia.


Poetry Center
Dorothy Rubel Room
1508 E Helen
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States
Located on the SE corner of Helen Street and Vine Avenue, one block north of Speedway and three blocks west of Campbell Ave.

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