Current courses at SFU, Liberal Arts Program


ON the Edge of Empires: The Ancient Cultures of Armenia ans Georgia


Located at the crossroads of western Asia and Eastern Europe, former republics of the USSR, and now independent states, Armenia and Georgia are among the oldest civilizations in the world, with a recorded history of about 3,500 years. The earliest in Europe to convert to Christianity, and to translate the Bible into vernacular languages, both countries endured struggle with Byzantines, Arabs, Turks, the Persian and Russian empires and the Soviet totalitarianism. Yet, both countries have preserved powerful national identities, wonderful visual arts, music dance and literature.

This course is followed by a field trip to Armenia and Georgia in September 2019.


Whether you took the course or not, you're welcome to join our spirited, curious, knowledgeable world-trotters.

We will drive along meandering mountainous roads with breathtaking sites in order to reach ancient churches and active monasteries in both countries. We'll visit art Museums as the Museum of Genocide in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia; will will admire mountain Ararat from Yerevan  (if anybody notices the Noah's ark on top, at least take a picture). But we'll also taste exquisite Armenian and Georgian wines that both countries claim were the first to invent 8,000 years ago. It is an exciting time to be in Armenia after the recent peaceful protests have led to a more democratic government, as well as to see changes in Georgia where a first woman President has been recently elected.


Upcoming courses at SFU, Liberal Arts Program


The Forgotten Splendor of Turgenev's Art

May 2019


Among the highest elevations of 19th-century Russian Literature, Ivan Turgenev (1818 -1883) stands as one of the tallest peaks next to his famous contemporaries like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.  An advocate of European enlightenment for his country, a liberal who rejected the radicalism taking root in Russian society, Turgenev aroused fierce polemics with his novels. His life long devotion to the French opera singer Pauline Viardot has inspired some of the most beautiful passages on love in literature, at the same time fueling the anger of his detractors. We'll examine Turgenev's major works in the historical and social context of their time.




The Art of Short Story Reading (to be repeated  by popular demand)

October – November 2019


Short fiction, a relatively new art form, developed at the end of the 19th century, is a difficult genre that allows a writer only a small space to recreate the fullness and wonder of life. What makes a story tick? What means does the author use to elicit our laughter or tears? We'll gain some insights by reading such diverse writers from different parts of the world as Camus, Mavis Gallant,  Dino Buzzati, Maupassant, Bachmanns and others.



Masterpieces of the Soviet Literature: Bulgakov, Master and Margarita

(time to be announced)






Every two years I take my engaged and culture-curious  students to a field trip to Russia and other post-Soviet states: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia,  Armenia...

We visit both cities and villages focusing on the jewels of art and culture and simply looking at the way people live.


For a detailed program and further information contact me, or our travel agents at CBT Luxury Edition Travel:

604 925 9680

Click here for more information

Past Courses at SFU and UBC Adult Education


Great Cities in Their Time: St. Petersburg and Its Culture


The Art of Translation


A Daring Eye Behind the Camera: Russian Women Film Directors


Aesthetics of Love: A History


Anna Karenina and her Creator


Chekhov and Bunin


Dostoyevsky the Visionary


From Cicero to Sacks: Sages on Aging


Genius of the Place



At The Highest Point Of Artistry: Nabokov And Bunin, Russian Writers In Exile


Petrarch and His World: The Story of "The Father of Humanism"


Picturing the Holy: The Russian Icon Through the Ages: Understanding Russian Icon


Russia's Arts on Film


Between Hell and Heaven, Masterpieces Of Modern Russian Prose


Russian Cinema


In Search for Meaning: Existentialism


Women In Russian Culture:


How To Read Nabokov


In Search Of Objects And Words Lost: Writing About The Intangible


Understanding Russian Civilization


Soviet Cinema: Wars, Revolution and Propaganda


The Art of Short Story Reading


The Forgotten Splendour of Turgenev's Art


 The Making of a Dictator: Putin’s Rise to Power

Copyright © 2019 Marina Sonkina. All rights reserved.