«We never dumb things down, we never simplify the way we think about a piece of writing so students “can understand”. Our analysis should always be mature and that way the students will be stretched, even if it is difficult at first»,
Mikhail Sverdlov, head of Literature Club.
Literature Club is made up of regular classes devoted to analysing works of literature. The classes are open to all students, graduates and teachers at Step Up. They are not like extra school classes. It is a club and not, therefore, a pressurised atmosphere. All the participants are treated equally. There are limitless supplies of tea, biscuits and sandwiches and students can read aloud, ask questions and listen to the answers while making jokes and chatting about the most important things in life: love, death, friendship, freedom, inspiration – in short, everything with which literature deals.
The club was born 14 years ago as the brainchild of Mikhail Sverdlov who teaches Russian language and literature at the Centre. In his day job Mikhail writes books and works as an academic at the Gorky Institute of World Literature.
Both students and teachers attend the club and together they form an unofficial society of literature lovers. The club is light-hearted and its participants vary in age, education and character. Over the course of the year novellas, short stories, poetry and longer poems are studied. During the summer holidays the attendees read longer works and the first few sessions are dedicated to one book. The club alternates between Russian and foreign authors.
The aim of each session is to tease out the point the author is making and the thinking behind it. This is why each session starts with a group discussion, in a circle, of each participant’s impressions of and their questions. In the club’s notebook a secretary records any questions regarding the plot, issues raised by the author and key points for understanding the text. These points form the basis for further discussion.