We will explore a concept of decision making as applied to a wide range of characters in literature and cinematography. In modern approach, the question of one's success and failure is linked to the decision makers' capability, their inner qualities, their ability to set goals, as well as their skills in elaborating strategy and tactics that would prevent them from disasters. In this course, we will refer to folkloric sources from a series of Indo-European traditions (Greek, Russian, East-European), considering different approachesto success and failure in them. Subsequently, we will examine characters from major European literary and dramatic works-and especially Russian works that exploited the topic of decision making to structure the plot and narrative and to illuminate the role of an individual. Analysis will be informed by classical and contemporary theoretical tools (from ancient philosophers to Upenn's own Prof. Aron Kastenelinboigen). Our investigations will lead ultimately to analytical insight into major works of the western literary and filmic canon.