The Russian program is designed to provide training in the Russian language and a critical appreciation of the varieties of cultural expression in the Russian-speaking world from antiquity to the present. Our course offerings also contribute to the interdisciplinary programs of Comparative Literature, Film and Media Studies, Sex, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (SGS), and Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies (CRES).
Our language courses, from the introductory through the advanced levels, are taught in Russian and designed to give students a solid command of the grammatical system and the communicative skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. At every level, students analyze works of Russian literature, films and TV shows, music, news reports, academic articles, artworks, and a variety of online media.
We believe that language is inextricable from culture, and to that end we offer a lively program of cultural events and activities, both on and off campus. Each year we welcome a native-speaker Language Scholar to our department, who serves as a cultural liaison, a language tutor, and a friend to our students. We also appoint a student Coordinator, who works with the Language Scholar to run the department’s cultural program. The campus Russian House serves as the hub for these activities, which typically include cooking tutorials, sing-alongs, film screenings, game nights, trips to concerts and local Russian stores, and the occasional music video shoot. Additional assistance is provided by student tutors and the resources of the language laboratory.
The department’s core literature offerings, organized by period and genre, survey the development of Russian poetry and prose. A three-semester sequence (Russian 371, 372, 373) covers prose from the Middle Ages to the present, while a two-semester sequence (Russian 354, 355) examines the main figures and movements in nineteenth- and twentieth-century poetry.
The department also offers a number of courses on specialized and comparative topics, including:
- Soviet science fiction
- the films of Andrei Tarkovsky and Sergei Eisenstein
- Jewishness and cinema
- Ukrainian imagination and Russian literature
- literary translation
- the critical theory and practice of the Russian Formalists and Structuralists
- Putin’s Russia
- multiculturalism and identity politics in the Imperial, Soviet, and post-Soviet contexts.
Recent independent study topics have included African American writers’ and intellectuals’ ties with the Soviet Union, Joseph Brodsky as an American poet, and translations of literary and theoretical texts. With the exception of the two-semester poetry sequence, which is limited to students with a reading knowledge of Russian, our courses are open to all students.
Russian majors, as well as students who need Russian credit for classes taught in English, are required to read texts in the original and attend an additional weekly discussion section. Students majoring in Russian will acquire the language skills necessary to conduct senior thesis research with materials in the original Russian.