Intermedial Lessons On Russian Literature


This article deals with the topical problem of digitization of education in the humanities. As an example, the model of an intermedial lesson of Russian literature is taken, which is based on the essay "The snowstorm" by the 19thcentury Russian writer S. T. Aksakov. The lesson was created by using converged technology that makes the seamless connection of information possible, communication and cognitive technologies and provides transition from the “subject-centricity” learning level to the meta-subjectlevel. Correlation of a new type of a lesson with the art literature substantiates has its own intermedial nature, a capacity for synthesis and cooperation both with other types of art and various information forms. In this regard, almost any literary work reveals a kind of syncretic code, manifested, for instance, in the fusion of words and music, words and gestures, or that of words and pictures, which defines, in terms of intermediality, the multi-component artistic image. It can be proved by the analysis of such a literary-journalistic text as "The Funeral of the “Universal Man”" from "A Writer's Diary" by F. Dostoevsky. It is shown how the word, visual emblem, and rhythm naturally intertwine in it, resulting in a new, synthetic unity that causes a synergistic effect. The article further describes the possibility to use the convergent educational technology in the teaching of Russian literature, in the frame of which, based on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), cognitive mechanisms for re-encoding the visual information to verbal-logical, graphical and other forms of multimedia series are implemented.

Keywords: Digital educationmodel of intermedial lesson“The snowstorm” essay by ST Aksakov


The conceptual model of an intermedial lesson is described on the example of S. T. Aksakov's essay "The snowstorm". In the integral structure of the lesson, the text basis is supplemented by various multimedia elements. Meanwhile, the main principle of an intermedial lesson construction is that text-blocks and blocks of audiovisual and other series of content complement each other. As a result, it was proved that an intermedial lesson as a lesson of a new type, with the help of cognitive and digital technologies immerses nowadays students in a single context of culture, history, art and literature.

Problem Statement

The manifestations of technological convergence are becoming more noticeable in modern education. The English term "technological convergence", which was preceded by the term "digital convergence", denotes the process of convergence and integration of different technologies in the framework of Digital education, which leads to a significant synergistic effect (Lugmayr & Cinzia, 2016). Today, the electronic educational space continues to develop and expand, combining a wide range of digital resources and products for teaching, including Russian language and literature teaching at all levels of training, at school and at university. These also can include intermedial lessons on Russian literature, made with the help of such modern educational technology as a convergent technology that allows you to fully realize the rich artistic potential of the classical writers` works in the learning process.

Convergent technology, now at the forefront of science and education, is open to integration with the humanities. It is no accident that the concept of NBIC convergence, introduced in 2002, has been replaced by the phenomenon of NBICS convergence (nano -, bio -, info -, cognitive and social-humanitarian technologies). It allows, in particular, the organic coupling of information and communication and cognitive technologies, or, figuratively speaking, the coupling of "smart number" and "smart word", that are capable, according to the Russian poet Nikolay Gumilyov, to convey "all shades of meaning".

First of all, convergence manifests itself in the form of interdisciplinarity, characteristic of anintermedial lesson. The correlation between this new type of lesson and the subject of "Literature" is not accidental, since artistic literature by its very nature is intermedial, i.e. capable of synthesis and interaction with other forms of art and with various information forms. Therefore, the formulation of the problem associated with the implementation of convergent technology in literary education seems natural to us today.

Research Questions

According to a modern philosopher Ilin (1998), intermediality is the ability to transfer information, including artistic one, in various media. In his opinion, it may be "the writer`s words, a color, a shadow, aline drawn by an artist, the sounds (and notes as a method of their fixing) produced by a musician, the organization of volumes by a sculptor and an architect, and, finally, the arrangement of the visual rows on the screen <...> in aggregate terms, they represent those media which, in each art form, are organized by their own set of rules, or a code".

In our opinion, such a code can be found in almost any literary and artistic work, in which, as academician A. Veselovsky believed, an echo of "primitive syncretism" is preserved, manifested in the fusion of word and music, word and gesture, word and picture, etc. It is reflected, for example, in a number of syncretic definitions of various types of art. Leonardo da Vinci believed that "Painting is the poetry that is seen, and poetry is the painting that is heard" (as cited in Borisova, 2016, p. 26). A Russian poet Osip Mandelstam said about poetry:

She is both music and word,

And thus the unbreakable bond

Of all that is alive. ( Translated by Albert C. Todd ).

As well, such definitions as "musical painting" and "scenic music" are quite natural. One of the ways to translate the language of one art into another is considered to beekphrasis, which allows you to create, from the point of view of intermediality, a two-part and even a multi-part verbal-visual (as a verbal analogue of a painting, a sculpture, etc.) or verbal-expressive artistic image.

In this regard, the poetics of syncretic by nature verbal text can be considered in view of its links with other – visual, visual and expressive – forms of expression of meaning, i.e. in an intermedial aspect. From this point of view, virtually any literary work reveals, in our opinion, a demonstrative complex of visual, emblematic and rhythmic codes programmed by the author.

Under the emblematic code, consulting which helps readers comprehend the author's intention, the ancient verbal-graphic triad is considered, which includes the verbalized picture (pictura), the label-name (inscriptio) and an interpretation (subscriptio). The rhythmic code, for its part, is similar to the emotional-musical score, updated by the performer, in this case, the reader, experiencing a powerful suggestive influence of the text, a skillfully organized magic of the word. The presence of visual and musical elements in the verbal series generates a special artistic effect, which is provided in the Literature lesson with the help of convergent technology.

Purpose of the Study

However, in the modern literary education the very possibility of a convergent approach, allowing to reveal the universal potential of the art of words, is still not even indicated. Although, according to academician Kovalchuk (2011), "further development of science and education is possible only on an interdisciplinary basis, convergence: we must teach young people to think in a convergent, interdisciplinary way" (p. 17). Accordingly, to create and use in the learning process the conceptual model of an intermedial lesson as a lesson of a new, synthetic type, is today an extremely urgent task, the solution of which is the purpose of this study.

Research Methods

Since intermediality in contemporary aesthetics serves not only as a theory but as a method of literary text analysis based on the interdisciplinary research principles, it naturally correlates with the methodological principle of interdisciplinary connections implementation in the learning process, which provides access to meta-subject content of artistic literature, which is a reflection of its inner essence, predefined by the universal features of a word as its tools and material ("In the beginning was the word...").

Literature, being in the root connection with many human sciences, in this case provides maximally the implementation of the meta-subject principle in teaching. It explains, for example, the literary-centricity of all variations of the attestation essays not only in literature but Russian language, history, social studies and a foreign language in the modern Russian school, caused by the universal content of literature as the art of the word, which is a whole image of the world and man (Borisova, 2016).

Academician Lihachev (1989) remarkably said about it in his "Letters on Good and Beautiful": "Literature gives us a colossal, vast and profound experience of life. It develops not only a sense of beauty, but also an understanding of life, all its complexities, serves as a guide to other eras and to other peoples, opens the hearts of people to us" (p. 145). The universal spiritual potential of artistic literature, as already noted above, is predetermined by its ability to synthesize, to interact with various kinds of arts, to be intermedial. Moreover, having multifunctional properties, literature has no absolute rivals in the area of culture and art.


One can give many relevant examples. Thus, these provisions are confirmed in the course of a comprehensive analysis and interpretation of a number of representative literary works from Dostoevsky's "A Writer's Diary" book. First of all, they are distinguished by visual poetics, emblematic images as a result of following the artistic tradition of verbal drawing (pictapoesis). In this regard particularly noticeable is the literary essay "The Funeral of the “Universal Man”", which presents an artistic phenomenon of purposeful visualization of the verbal image. It is no accident that the writer called his work "a picture with a "moral center".

Indeed, he actually "paints" it. Unfolding the story of the life and death of Dr. Hindenburg, Dostoevskiy (1983) exclaims "If I were a painter, I would paintjust such a "genre" picture, that night at the beside of the new Jewish mother" (p. 90). He further fulfills his desire and resembles Rembrandt in the art of composition of light and characters, which he places at the vertical perspective intersection ("Christ sees all this from on high...") and builds a horizontal scene with a Christian and a Jew.

The writer, when he does so, demonstrates a great knowledge of the principles of painting. Being conscious of the advantages of visual representation, he emphasizes that for the artist himself there is "a luxury of the plot." In his extensive, in fact, art-wise educational comment the writer also includes "the stinking misery of a poor Jewish hut" and "the interesting lighting," and close-up of the figures: "The eighty-year-old torso of the doctor, naked and shivering from the morning damp, could take up a prominent place in the painting, as well as the face of the old man, and the face of the worn-out young mother who is looking at her newborn and at what the doctor is doing with it." (Dostoevskiy, 1983, p. 124).

Dostoevsky conscientiously describes all the attributes in the proposed plot, highlighting by close-ups what he called the "moral center" in the picture: "the Christian takes the little Jew in his arms and wraps him with the taken from his own back...". "Christ sees all this from on high..." – the author finishes his narration, thereby designating the vertical perspective necessary for an emblem.

It is supplemented – now as if in the horizontal perspective – by a mirror scene, which is also highly important for the expression of the central idea: "the poor little Yid will grow up and, perhaps, he himself may take the shirt from his back and give it to a Christian, when he recalls the story of his own birth" (Dostoevskiy, 1983). At the center of this peculiar composite cross is the image of the "universal man" as a living icon.

The author's invitation to "paint" a picture, which concludes the chapter, looks a little excessive: the wordsmith has perfectly realized the painterly opportunities of a word, creating a bright and colorful "picture". Per se, he presented the verbal counterpart of the painting.

However, the writer here is not limited to only visual representation of images: from the language of prose, he virtually moves to the poetic form of speech; he increases its musical sound using such techniques as syntactical parallelism, lexical repetition, which turns into anaphora orepiphora, tone units of a prose-speech orderly and symmetrically separated from each other.

If one changes the graphic appearance of a text, it can be easily decomposed into poems:

Together those Russian peasant women and poor Jewish women

kissed his feet the coffin;

together they crowded around him;

together they wept.

Fifty-eight years of service to humanity in this city,

fifty-eight years of ceaseless love

united them all, if only once, over his coffin

in a common rapture and common tears.

All the town comes out for his funeral;

the bells of all the churches peal;

prayers are sung in all the languages.

The pastor, in tears, gives his speech

over the open grave.

The rabbi stands off to one side,

waiting, and when the pastor has finished

he takes his place and gives his speech

and sheds the same tears.

Why, at that moment

this very “Jewish question” had almost been solved!

The pastor and the rabbi were united

in common love,

why, they almost embraced

over this grave

in the presence of Christians and Jews.

(Dostoevskiy, 1983. Translation by Kenneth Lantz).

As a result, the ending of the given chapter of “A Writer's Diary” devoted to the discussion of the "Jewish question", acquires a special, striking character, contributing to the didactic consolidation of Dostoevsky's idea of a possible universal Christian brotherhood. Such a combination of visuality and musicality is natural to the poetics of many of the works of the author of the great “pentateuch", who, in our opinion, perfectly realized the intermedial potential of a word. However, his works, although unique, in this respect do not look exceptional, showing a good example of the expression of the universal possibilities of the art of speech in general.

Accordingly, Russian literature lessons should become intermedial, aided by modern convergent technology, which provides a transition from the "subject-centricity" level of learning to the meta-subject level (Feschenko & Shestakova, 2017, p. 163).

This task is indicated in the Federal state educational standard of general secondary education, in its key formulation, correlated with the possibilities of implementation in meta-subject teaching of the universal, from the point of view of culture and art, potential of fiction, which is "the image of the world manifested in the word " (B. L. Pasternak), i.e. the complete picture of the world: "the subject results of the assimilation of integrated subjects are focused on the formation of holistic views of the world and the general culture of students through the development of systematic scientific knowledge and methods of action on a meta-subject basis" (Federal'nyy gosudarstvennyy..., 2012).

On this basis, we believe in the possibility of the targeted use of convergent educational technologies at lessons of Russian literature, which as a result acquire a fundamentally different nature compared to the traditional form, turning into the so-called intermedial lessons, aimed at shaping via a variety of multimedia tools of the complete picture of the world, the emotional and intellectual experience of it by students through their involvement in the broad context of classical culture, art, literature and language. The most important features of the intermedial lesson as a lesson of a new type arise from the cognitive mechanisms of information recoding, when information from image represent ationsis recoded to verbal-logical, graphic and other forms of a multi-media series.

In general, the model of such a lesson is focused on combining the possibilities of traditional and electronic education, the convergence of traditional (verbal, etc.) and innovative (audiovisual, interactive and other) learning tools based on literary text, which allows for a special, synergetic impact.

A text acts in this case as a key didactic unit, the development of which is provided by the implementation of multimedia technologies. They provide a multifunctional "extension" of the basic text, the possibility of supplementing it with hyperlinks, a combination of presentation of information and illustrative material (tables, texts, facts of the writer's biography, portrait galleries, video illustrations from films, musical illustrations, etc.) with training algorithms, models, tests and control tasks within the framework of independent project, constructive and creative activity of students, etc.

We should emphasize that an innovative lesson of such type acts as a single multimedia entity. In its structure animation, video, audio fragments, graphics, etc. are integral elements that help to express the universal, intermedial content of a literary text. From this point of view, in the intermedial literature lesson the text base is complemented by photo, video and audio illustrations, slide shows, audio and video podcasts, videos, static and dynamic infographics, etc., which are collected into a coherent picture as "puzzles".

It means there is need for a special design of multimedia lessons. Educational material in the form of text acts as a single "canvas", in which multimedia elements are inserted. It results in a combination that includes all sorts of texts, photos, video clips, audio fragments, graphics and interactive elements, and in the aggregate represents a nonlinear hypertext.

The content of the intermedial lesson, in its turn, also acquires multidimensionality: the material is divided into the main (traditional) and additional (innovative) parts. Meanwhile, one of the main principles of the intermedial lesson is that the blocks of text and blocks of audiovisual and other series meaningfully complement each other, i.e. the form of the lesson assumes an organic ideological and thematic symbiosis of a text and multimedia series. Therefore, the teacher who constructs such a lesson should think both in terms of text and categories of "picture" and sound pattern, to demonstrate the ability to convergent thinking.

The preparation process and conducting of the intermedial lesson on Russian literature has multiple stages and involves:

first, the selection of didactic (textual) literary material with intermedial potential;

secondly, practical implementation and approbation of the model of the intermedial lesson;

third, the implementation of such a lesson in the educational process;

fourth, publishing of the created educational resource on the portal of open education;

fifth, ensuring its effective functioning.

A specific example of the intermedial lesson model implementation is the lesson for the 8th grade middle school based on “The snowstorm” essay by S. T. Aksakov, published on the educational website "the word of S. T. Aksakov and the word about S. T. Aksakov" (as cited in Borisova, 2017, p. 27).In this case, Aksakov's "text" (in the broad sense of the word) functions as a fact of digital cultura and digital education.

“The Snowstorm” essay is one of the best works of S. T. Aksakov, a writer of the first half of the 19th century, who is rightly considered in modern literature as a forerunner of Russian classical realism. If not for Aksakov`spiece of writing about thesnowstorm in the Bashkir steppe, the novel by Alexander Pushkin “Captain's daughter” would not have appeared, in which the images of two elements – the snowstorm and the “Russian revoult” – interact and overlap symbolically. In the history of Russian literature, this essay is considered as the seed, from which the great Pushkin's work has grown.

The intermedial lesson based on Aksakov's essay begins with a slide demonstration of the writer's portrait, accompanied by an epigraph revealing the theme of the lesson “The Snowstorm in the steppe”:

"My soul is flying to our wild land:

into the vastness of the steppes, into the darkness of the forests..."

The learning goals and objectives of the lesson motivate students to get to know through the artistic word of S. T. Aksakov the eternal, archetypal foundations of Russian life and culture, the people's view of nature and man.

During the lesson, the teacher demonstrates and comments on the results of independent projects of the students who prepared presentations of local history, biographical, historical and literary material in the form of a slide show, which included photos of artifacts from the memorial house of S. T. Aksakov in Ufa and other visually presented interesting examples from the life and work of the writer.

To ensure the interactive nature of learning various kinds of tasks that require teacher`s and students` confident knowledge of ICT are introduced in the structure of the lesson. It is so, since all tasks are performed online, such as: verification and control tests, analytical exercises, when the definition of the genre of the essay, for example, is not given in the finished form, but is constructed from the features proposed for the correct selection.

Key quotes from the prose text of “The Snowstorm” essay are supplemented by an audio fragment – an expressive reading of the eponymous poem by S. T. Aksakov with musical accompanied by a waltz by G. V. Sviridov to the story of A. S. Pushkin "The Snowstorm". This is a great musical illustration of a literary work. The picture created by amaster of the word, which one can see and imagine, is complemented by a picture that one can hear and feel with one’s heart. Thus, creating a synergistic effect, Russian music and wordsconvey the unrestrained Russian nature and character.

Necessary for today's students vocabulary-work with Aksakov’s text, which is richly saturated with turkisms, archaisms and historicism that need interpretation, is complemented by the analysis of expressive-figurative means of the language, after which online test is conducted to check the students’ assimilating of new knowledge (during testing the means of visualization are used, such as dynamic slides with drawings, animation, etc.).

The same method is used to introduce the material necessary for historical and literary comparison. For example, in the chapter “A Guide” of the “Captain's daughter” novel, in which Pushkin, based on the experience of S. T. Aksakov as his direct predecessor, perfectly reproduced the scene of the snowstorm in the steppe. A key fragment from Pushkin’s text is also given with audio-video additions in the form of pictorial, musical and cinematographic illustrations.

The linguo-cultural commentary of the key word "Snowstorm" in the works of both authors, which is of great importance in the structure and content of the lesson, is conducted by the teacher in an interactive form, which contributes to the solution of the problem question “Why the Turkic word "Buran" was used for snowstorm both by Pushkin and Aksakov in their original texts?”.

It was S. T. Aksakov, who long before A. S. Pushkin and V. I. Dal used this Turkic word for a steppe snowstorm, a blizzard in a strong northern wind. At homeland of the writer, there are two kinds of a snowstorm distinguished: a blizzard from below, when a whirlwind raises and twists the snow from the ground, and a blizzard from above, accompanied by heavy snowfall. Aksakov and Pushkin used this Turkism deliberately, to provide by it a special flavor in the description of the Orenburg steppe, where Bashkirs, Tatars and Kazakhs lived together with the Russians. One can find many other Turkic words in S. T. Aksakov’s essay, such as: "malackhai"(a big furry hat), "syrt"(a prolonged flat high ground), "umet"(a boardinghouse in the steppe), "koshma" (a carpet made of sheep’s or camel’s wool). Linguistic and culturological commentary is also givenin intermedial form, with the translation and interpretation of the Turkic words accompanied by visual illustrations.

Throughout the lesson, the teacher gradually brings students to the conclusion that as a wonderful writer-naturalist and deep philosopher, S. T. Aksakov through the image of the snowstorm expressed the idea of unreasonable opposition of people to nature, to its elements, telling that it is better to wait out and "surrender to the will of God. "The famous Pushkin formula – “God save us from seeing a Russian revolt, senseless and merciless. Those who plot impossible upheavals among us, are either young and do not know our people, or are hard-hearted men who do not care a straw either about their own lives or those of others”– is also mostly predetermined by the symbolic illustration of unrestrained manifestations of the storm and the national character in Aksakov’s text.

All the following tasks related to the analysis and interpretation of Aksakov's work are also performed using information and communication technologies, which allows the teacher to monitor the process and results of learning online, if necessary, making students go back to the intermediate stages of the lesson.

The home assignment is to write an essay on the topic "Here’s "Russian spirit", here "feels" like in Russia (based on “The Snowstorm” essay by S. T. Aksakov)". It is accompanied by recommendations, exempting students on the planned meta-level comprehension of literary text: they should pay attention and see the most important signs and features of Russian nature, Russian life and Russian national character reproduced in the work of the writer, who was able to realize the universal potential of a word.


Thus, an intermedial lesson created by using converged technology that enables to provide an organic integration of information, communication and cognitive technologies, as well as the transition to interdisciplinary learning level, to the maximum extent contributes to the realization of a universal artistic potential of a word.

Due to convergent educational technology, in which the cognitive mechanisms of transcoding literary text into verbal-logical, graphic and other forms of multimedia series are realized on the basis of ICT, the figurative content is perceived by nowadays students in a single context of culture, history, art and literature. It provides a synergetic effect and as a result allows forming a holistic picture of the world in the minds of students.


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Borisova, V., Schaulov, S., Shuralev, A., & Faizrahmanova, A. (2020). Intermedial Lessons On Russian Literature. In I. Murzina (Ed.), Humanistic Practice in Education in a Postmodern Age, vol 93. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 221-229). European Publisher.