photo of books with Russian titles and a mug of coffee on a desktop


The Russian department at Reed provides training in the Russian language and helps students to develop a critical appreciation of Russia’s diverse literary and cultural traditions. The department’s purview extends beyond the bounds of Russia to encompass Eastern European Jewish studies and Soviet and post-Soviet cultural materials from Ukraine, Central Asia, and diasporic communities.

Our language courses, from the introductory through the advanced levels, are taught in Russian and offer additional opportunities to practice through a peer-tutoring program and weekly conversations with a native speaker. In the second year, students continue their study of grammar and consolidate their language skills with reading, discussion, and written commentary on Russian lyrical poetry and texts on Russian cultural history. During the third year, students engage in extensive study of the Russian short story, writing, and conversation, while continuing formal language training. The unique feature of the Russian program at Reed is the sequence of three courses that together cover the history of Russian literature from the Middle Ages to the present.

Students can also build their language skills and cultural appreciation at the Russian House, which serves as both a residence hall and a cultural center. Each week residents host a cultural event: films, dinners and teas, board games, poetry readings, musical performances, and much more.

“The department offers its students entry into a Russian family of students, professors, and language scholars. This family has shown me the depths of Russian culture beyond the written word.” BRANDON MARROW ’18

Professor profile

Professor Naomi Caffee

Language, Letters, and Cultures
photo of Professor Naomi Caffee

Assistant Professor of Russian & Humanities Naomi Caffee first encountered the Russian language in a college classroom in rural Iowa. From there her journey as an educator, researcher, and perpetual language learner has taken her to Siberia, the Russian Arctic, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and many points in between.

At Reed she teaches courses on Russian and Russophone literature, as well as comparative topics that interrogate notions of Russianness and showcase the cultural diversity of the Russian-speaking world.

Her course Nuclear Literatures takes an ecocritical approach to works about nuclear war and disaster (and includes a field trip to Reed’s student-run nuclear research reactor), while her course Multicultural Russia examines intersections of literature and identity politics in the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the post-Soviet states.

Download Russian Flyer as a PDF

Notable Fulbrights

Timmy Straw ’18 (Russian) was selected as a Fulbright Fellow to Russia, where they researched contemporary poetry in Moscow; Isabel Meigs ’16 (Russian) traveled to Ukraine to serve as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant; Madeline Kinkel ’14 (Russian) won a Fulbright to teach English in Azerbaijan; and Auden Lincoln-Vogel ’13 (Russian/Art) served as a Fulbright Scholar in Estonia, working on a narrative animation project.

Senior Thesis Titles

“The Familiar Face Flickers in the Crowd: The City and the Subject of the Soviet Thaw in I Walk the Streets of Moscow
Alexander Fallow ’22

“‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’: Dual Psychologies of Faith and Spiritual Peace in Tolstoian Fiction”
Marielle Czerniecki ’22

“Trotsky Writes the Russian Revolution: The Symbol of Explosion in Trotsky’s My Life and the History of the Russian Revolution and Its Meta-Symbolic Significance”
Michael Lerner ’21

“On the Road to Recovery: Soviet Jewish Travelogues in a Thawing Landscape”
Zack Youcha ’21

“Stuck In-Between: An Analysis of Characters as Political Actors in the Work of Herta Müller and Sana Krasikov”
Hillary Gerber ’20

In Memory of Memory: The Poetry of Maria Stepanova”
Timmy Straw ’18

Recent Events & Lectures

  • Film Screening: The Storming of the Winter Palace (Evreinov 1920) with introduction by Yuri Tsivian, Professor, University of Chicago, and Daria Khitrova, Professor, Harvard University
  • Lecture: Andy Bruno ’03, Associate Professor of History, Northern Illinois University, “Environment and Power in the Soviet Arctic”
  • Poetry Reading: Polina Barskova, Associate Professor of Russian Literature, Hampshire College
  • Symposium: Understanding Putinism: Illiberal Russia through the Liberal Arts

What Do Alumni Do?

Master’s Student
NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
Marielle Czerniecki ’22

Lead Paralegal
Del Olmo Law PC
Brandon Marrow ’18

US Retail Marketing Specialist
Intel Corporation
Ella Smith ’16

Behavorial Research Officer
Orla O’Sullivan ’16

Liminal Films LLC
Sara Lafleur-Vetter ’05

Mara Zepeda ’02

Associate Professor of Russian
Amherst College
Michael Kunichika ’99