Russian Language & Literature

Русский язык и русская литература в Рид–колледже

The Major and Minor

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Requirements for the Major
A Minor in Russian
Reading List for Majors

The course offerings of the Russian department are designed to meet the twofold objective of providing training in the Russian language and achieving a critical appreciation of Russia’s literary tradition from its beginnings to the present. By following the prescribed course of studies, the student majoring in Russian will have acquired the active and passive language skills required for undertaking senior thesis research in the original.

The language courses, from the introductory through the advanced levels, are taught in Russian and offer supplementary drill opportunities through the language laboratory and weekly conversation sections with a native speaker. In the second year, students continue their study of grammar and consolidate their active and passive language skills with reading, discussion, and written commentary on Russian lyrical poetry and texts on Russian cultural history. The third-year level offers extensive reading of the Russian short story, writing, and oral exercises, while continuing formal language training.

The literature offerings, organized by period and genre, survey the development of Russian poetry and prose from the Middle Ages to the present. A three-semester sequence (Russian 371, 372, 373) covers the most important prose texts produced within the thousand-year history of Russian letters, while a two-semester sequence (Russian 354, 355) examines the main figures and movements in nineteenth and twentieth century poetry.

In addition to these survey courses, the department offers a number of seminars on specialized topics, the content of which varies from year to year, as well as the opportunity for independent study by special arrangement with the instructor. Seminar topics in the past have included the critical theory and practice of the Russian formalists and structuralists; terror and the sublime in Russian literature; Russian masculinity; art of political discourse; and literature, film, and society since glasnost. A unique dimension of the Reed program in Russian is represented by offerings in the literature, film and theater of East and Central European Jews.

Independent study topics have ranged from introductory Old Church Slavonic to Russian comix. With the exception of the two-semester poetry sequence, which is limited to students with a reading knowledge of Russian, the literature offerings are open to non-Russian majors. Russian majors as well as students who need Russian literature credit for classes taught in English are required to read texts in the original and to attend an additional weekly discussion section.

Majors are expected to broaden their general background and to enhance their critical skills by pursuing work in the humanities, other literatures, philosophy, history, and the fine arts. The junior qualifying examination in Russian is given to majors at the end of their third year or, with prior consultation with the faculty, at the start of the senior year. The written exam tests the student’s preparation in language and seeks to establish the breadth and depth of experience in Russian literature through a series of broadly conceived essay questions.

Requirements for the Major

Exclusive of work needed to meet general college and divisional requirements:

  1. Two semesters of advanced Russian language; Russian 371, 372, 373.
  2. At least one more semester course in Russian poetry and one semester in other upper-division literature offerings.
  3. Russian 470 (thesis).

Recommended but not required:

  1. Humanities 211–212 or 220 in the sophomore year.
  2. Courses in English or other literature, philosophy, or history that may be relevant to the chosen area of concentration of the individual student.

Russian Junior Qual and Assessment

For their Russian junior quals, the students are asked to write a couple of analytical essays pertaining to the topics and materials they have explored in their course work in the Russian department (i. e. Russian literary and cultural history, Russian fiction and film, East European Jewish studies, Russophone literature). The Students are also asked to translate a literary text from Russian (this is a timed assignment) and write a stylistic commentary on it. The answers should take the form of thoughtful coherent essays and have a clear thesis, argument, and supportive evidence. The students are evaluated on their command of the material, their ability to construct a persuasive argument, the accuracy of their supportive evidence and their ability to engage with the material at hand. The students are usually given three days (Friday through Sunday) to work on their quals and are allowed to use primary texts, dictionaries as well as their course notes, but not scholarly and critical works.

The Russian junior qual is a diagnostic tool for testing the students’ linguistic and intellectual preparedness to undertake their yearlong senior thesis project. Each exam is read by all three Russian faculty members. Grades are determined by consensus. We award the following grades: pass, conditional pass, and fail. A student, who is awarded “conditional pass,” is required to do specific remedial course work. The department chair writes a letter to every student who has taken a qual, informing them of an outcome.

Thesis Assessment

The thesis grade is determined by the thesis advisor in consultation with the orals board. The grade takes into account the following three components: 1) the quality of the student's work in the yearlong course Russ 470; 2) the quality of the document presented to the board; and 3) the quality of the student’s oral defense of their work. The Russian department applies the following standard for awarding A+ for senior thesis: the final product should be of the “publishable quality,” that is, it should include parts that can be reworked into a submission to a peer-review scholarly journal.

A Minor in Russian

The goal of the Russian minor is to ensure a high intermediate level of Russian language proficiency together with substantial study of Russian literature and culture. All students must complete four units of Russian courses above the introductory level, and at least one of these must be a literature/culture course requiring the original language.

Requirements for the Minor:

  1. Four units of 200-, 300-, or 400-level Russian courses.
  2. At least one unit must be in a Russian literature or culture course not in translation, taken at Reed College.
  3. Students may transfer credits from equivalent college-level courses taken elsewhere (as from a study abroad program).
  4. Depending on language proficiency, additional courses or substitutions (see chart below).
Starting Language Course Language Courses 200- to 400- level Courses Total Units
Russian 120: Russian 120, 220 Two units of Russian, one of which must be Russian literature not in translation taken at Reed College. 6 units
Russian 220: Russian 220 Two units of Russian, one of which must be Russian literature not in translation taken at Reed College. 4 units
Russian 300: Russian 300 (optional) Four units of Russian, one of which must be Russian literature not in translation taken at Reed College (one of these units may be in Russian 300). 4 units

Reading List for Majors

  • Old Russian Literature
    • Primary Chronicle
    • The Tale of Bygone Years
    • Sermon on Law and Grace
    • Paterikon of the Kiev Cave Monastery
    • The Lay of Igor's Campaign
    • Lament of Daniil Zatochnik
    • Life of Theodosius
    • Legend of Boris and Gleb
    • Tale of the Destruction of Ryazan
    • Zadonshchina
    • Life of Sergius of Radonezh or Life of Stefan of Perm
    • Correspondence of Ivan Groznyj and Kurbskiy
    • Tale of Peter and Fevronia
    • Life of Archpriest Avvakum
    • Life of Iuliana Osorgina
    • Tale of Misery Luckless Plight
    • Tale of Savva Grudtsyn
    • Frol Skobeev
    • selections from Domostroy
  • Eighteenth Century
    • selected poetry of Derzhavin
    • Emin, Letters of Ernest and Doravra
    • Chulkov, The Comely Cook
    • Karamzin, "Poor Liza," "The Island of Bornholm"
    • Maikov, Elisei or Bacchus Enraged
    • Bogdanovich, Dushenka
    • Fonvizin, The Adolescent or The Brigadier
    • Sumarokov, Dimitri the Imposter
    • Radishchev, Journey from Petersburg to Moscow
    • Krylov, selected fables
  • Nineteenth Century
    • selected lyrics: Zhukovsky, Baratynsky, Baiushkov, Viazemsky, Del'vig
    • Pushkin
      • selected lyrics and poèmy
      • Captain's Daughter
      • Queen of Spades
      • Tales of Belkin
      • Eugene Onegin
      • Boris Godunov
    • Gogol
      • selections from Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka
      • "A Terrible Vengeance"
      • "How Ivan Ivanovich Quarrelled with Ivan Nikiforovich"
      • Dead Souls
      • Inspector General
      • "Nose"
      • "Overcoat"
      • "Nevsky Prospect"
    • Lermontov
      • selections from lyrics
      • Hero of Our Time
    • Goncharov, Oblomov
    • Aksakov, Family Chronicle
    • Nekrasov, selected lyrics
    • Tyutchev, selected lyrics
    • Turgenev
      • Notes from a Hunter's Album
      • Fathers and Children
    • Dostoevsky
      • Notes from the Underground
      • Brothers Karamazov
    • Tolstoy
      • Childhood
      • Anna Karenina or War and Peace
      • "Death of Ivan Ilych"
    • Fet, selected lyrics
    • Saltykov Shchedrin, The Golovlov Family
    • Leskov, The Enchanted Wanderer
    • Chekhov
      • "Steppe"
      • "In the Ravine"
      • "Man in a Case"
      • "A Dull Story"
      • "Lady with a Dog"
      • "House with an Attic"
      • "Ward Number 6"
      • "The Bishop"
      • "The Darling"
      • one of the plays
  • Twentieth Century
    • Symbolists (Ivanov, Briusov, Gippius, Annensky, Kusmin), selected poetry and prose
    • Blok
      • selected lyrics
      • Balaganchik
      • "The Twelve"
    • Belyj
      • selected lyrics
      • Peterburg
    • Acmeists (Gumilev, Akhmatova), selected poetry
    • Mandelstam
      • selected poetry
      • Egyptian Stamp
      • Noise of Time
    • Maiakovsky
      • selected lyrics
      • Cloud in Trousers
      • The Bedbug
    • Khlebnikov, selected lyrics
    • Pasternak
      • selected lyrics
      • "The Childhood of Lyuvers"
      • Doctor Zhivago
    • Tsvetaeva, selected lyrics
    • Gorky
      • "Twenty-Six Men and a Girl"
      • The Lower Depths
    • Bunin
      • "Dry Valley"
      • "Gentleman from San Francisco"
    • Bulgakov, Master and Margarita
    • Babel', Red Cavalry
    • Olesha, Envy
    • Zamyatin, We
    • Zoshchenko, selected stories
    • Pilnyak, Naked Year
    • Shklovsky, Sentimental Journey or Zoo
    • Kharms, selected stories
    • Il'f and Petrov, Twelve Chairs or Golden Calf
    • Sholokhov, And Quiet Flows the Don (vol. 1)
    • Platonov, The Foundation Pit
    • Nabokov
      • The Gift
      • Lolita
    • Evtushenko, Voznesensky, Akhmadulina, selected poetry
    • Solzhenitsyn, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
    • Shalamov, Kolyma Tales
    • Ginzburg, Journey into the Whirlwind
    • Aksyonov, Ostrov Krym or Zvezdnyj put'
    • Voynovich, Private Chonkin or Moscow 2040
    • Erofeev, Moscow to the End of the Line
    • Shukshin, selected stories
    • Sinyavsky/Tertz, The Trial Begins
    • Brodsky, selected lyrics
    • Vladimov, Faithful Ruslan
  • Twenty-first Century
    • Shishkin
      • Maidenhair
      • The Light and the Dark
    • Sorokin, Day of the Oprichnik
    • Prilepin, Sin
    • Ulitskaya
      • Medea and Her Children
      • The Big Green Tent
    • Petrushevskaya, There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby
    • Rubina, On the Sunny Side of the Street
    • Rodionov, Welcome to Moscow
    • Ulzytuev, Anaphora
  • Secondary Sources
    • Walicki, Andrzej, A History of Russian Thought from the Enlightment to Marxism
    • Billington, The Icon and the Axe
    • Riasanovsky, Nicholas, Russia and the West in the Teachings of Slavophiles
    • Berlin, Isaiah, Russian Thinkers
    • Frank, Joseph, Through the Russian Prism
    • Terras, A History of Russian Literature