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.
Exclusive of work needed to meet general college and divisional requirements:
- Two semesters of advanced Russian language; Russian 371, 372, 373.
- At least one more semester course in Russian poetry and one semester in other upper-division literature offerings.
- Russian 470 (thesis).
Recommended but not required:
- Humanities 210 or 220 in the sophomore year.
- Courses in English or other literature, philosophy, or history that may be relevant to the chosen area of concentration of the individual student.
Reading List for Majors
Old Russian Literature
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
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
selections from Domostroy
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
Fonvizin, The Adolescent or The Brigadier
Sumarokov, Dimitri the Imposter
Radishchev, Journey from Petersburg to Moscow
Krylov, selected fables
selected lyrics: Zhukovsky, Baratynsky, Baiushkov, Viazemsky, Del'vig
selected lyrics and poèmy
Queen of Spades
Tales of Belkin
selections from Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka
"A Terrible Vengeance"
"How Ivan Ivanovich Quarrelled with Ivan Nikiforovich"
selections from lyrics
Hero of Our Time
Aksakov, Family Chronicle
Nekrasov, selected lyrics
Tyutchev, selected lyrics
Notes from a Hunter's Album
Fathers and Children
Notes from the Underground
Anna Karenina or War and Peace
"Death of Ivan Ilych"
Fet, selected lyrics
Saltykov Shchedrin, The Golovlov Family
Leskov, The Enchanted Wanderer
"In the Ravine"
"Man in a Case"
"A Dull Story"
"Lady with a Dog"
"House with an Attic"
"Ward Number 6"
one of the plays
Symbolists (Ivanov, Briusov, Gippius, Annensky, Kusmin), selected poetry and prose
Acmeists (Gumilev, Akhmatova), selected poetry
Noise of Time
Cloud in Trousers
Khlebnikov, selected lyrics
"The Childhood of Lyuvers"
Tsvetaeva, selected lyrics
"Twenty-Six Men and a Girl"
The Lower Depths
"Gentleman from San Francisco"
Bulgakov, Master and Margarita
Babel', Red Cavalry
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
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
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