The student of Russian first develops a basic competence in the language as a means of communication—reading, speaking, aural comprehension, and writing. This competence is then applied to Russian literature, Russia’s human past and present. The study of the language and its embodiment in literature and culture can, therefore, serve students whose specializations are in any academic discipline, enhancing their capabilities for research and their appreciation of aesthetic and cultural diversity.
The recommended sequence of study for all students with an interest in Russian language covers four semesters (Russian 101, 102, 221, 222). Those entering with a previous background in Russian are placed in this sequence on the basis of a comprehensive test and an interview with the departmental staff. Opportunities for further study include courses in syntactical and literary analysis of the language and seminars on a broad variety of topics chosen by students. (See Independent Study.)
The department also offers courses on modern Russian literature in translation (Russian 247, 248, 251, 353). These provide access to Russian literature and culture for students who do not have a command of the language. Russian majors are encouraged to broaden and deepen their understanding of the Russian experience by exploring other disciplines—history, philosophy, the social sciences, and the languages and literatures of other national heritages. With this background, they may seek careers in teaching and scholarship, government, library science and informational services, and international trade. In addition, study in mathematics and the natural sciences in conjunction with a Russian major can open doors to many other careers.
Language is, of course, a social phenomenon. For this reason, many students of Russian become involved in the lively extracurricular program: Russian House; Russian language dinners, parties, films, visits; and lectures by Russian and American specialists. A native Russian language assistant is in residence in Russian House to make spoken Russian a daily reality. To encourage further mastery of the language and deeper knowledge of Russian culture, the department recommends that students study in Russia and is affiliated with programs of study in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Vladimir; our students have also studied, with College approval in Irkutsk, Yaroslavl, and other Russian cities.
A minimum of 32 credits beyond Russian 102. With permission, up to eight of the 32 credits may be taken in related studies outside the department. The recommended sequence includes Russian 101, 102, 221, 222, 247, or 248, 251, 331, 332, or 353, and 495 or 498. Beyond the language sequence (101–332) and the literary component of any off-campus program, four credits of work using original texts are required. (This requirement may be satisfied through “Plus-2” components of literature courses, independent reading projects, group independents, 495 or 498.) Recommended programs may include Linguistics 114 Introduction to General Linguistics, History 241-242 Russian History I and II, or a second foreign language.
To be considered for honors in Russian, graduating seniors, in addition to meeting the College’s general requirements for honors, must demonstrate superior performance in the coursework in the major (3.5 G.P.A. or higher) and make contributions outside the classroom to the department.
Intensive treatment of elementary Russian grammar, with special emphasis on pronunciation, basic conversational ability, and thorough coverage of contrastive English-Russian grammar. Conducted primarily in Russian. Meets five times a week.
A follow-up course to Russian 101, stressing the further study of grammatical usage and the development of reading and speaking ability. Conducted in Russian. Meets five times a week.
Conversation on free and structured themes, with topics drawn from different aspects of Russian and American life. May be repeated once for credit when content changes.
A reading and discussion course whose materials focus on contemporary culture with emphasis on the continuing study of grammatical concepts introduced in Russian 101 and 102.
A continuation of Russian 221. Materials focus on major aspects of Russian culture, with added emphasis on the study of more complex grammatical concepts.
Also listed as General Literary Studies 247. The development of the genre from its beginning in 18th-century Sentimentalism to the present. Authors could include Karamzin, Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Bulgakov, Babel, Olesha, Makanin, Tolstaya, and Sorokin. Conducted in English.
Also listed as General Literary Studies 248. A critical development of the Russian novel from its beginnings in Pushkin to its modernist and postmodernist incarnations. Conducted in English.
A survey of the varying cultural and racial perceptions of Africa and people of African descent as reflected in 19th- and 20th-century literature. Examines tsarist and Soviet history of Russian intellectual contact with the African diaspora and the impact of this contact on the development of the “African” as a literary theme in Russian and Soviet literature.
Also listed as General Literary Studies 261. From Eisenstein to Tarkovsky and beyond. Through lecture, discussion, and film analysis, this course will examine the fascinating and controversial history of Russian film in all its genres: from pre-Revolutionary melodrama to Sergei Eisenstein’s revolutionary Battleship Potemkin; from the hilarious comedies of Stalin’s era to the coded films of the 1960s and 1970s; from Andrei Tarkovsky’s sophisticated Solaris to the daring films of the glasnost era; from chernukha (noir) films of the 1990s to contemporary cinema about the Russian mafia, New Russians and the dramatic search for a new Russian identity. Conducted in English.
Advanced grammar combined with intensive reading of selected literary texts by major writers of the 19th century, including Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Chekhov. Conducted in Russian.
Further study of advanced grammar combined with intensive reading of selected literary texts by major writers of the 20th century, including modernist poets, and such prose writers as Bulgakov, Zamiatin, Olesha, Ilf and Petrov, Solzhenitsyn, Trifonov, Aksyonov, and other selected recent authors. Conducted in Russian.
Also listed as General Literary Studies 353. This course examines the artistic oeuvre of a single major Russian writer within the context of his cultural and literary milieu. The following writers could be offered in alternating years: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol, Chekhov, and Nabokov. Conducted in English. May be repeated once for credit when content changes.
A cultural and linguistic study of a selected Russian cultural phenomenon from the 19th or 20th century. Discussion may be centered around intellectual history, popular culture, a cultural period (e.g., The Silver Age), or analysis of an aspect of culture (theatre, rock, etc.). Conducted in Russian.
A literary and linguistic study of a major novel of the 19th or 20th century (e.g., Lermontov’s Hero of Our Time, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, Ilf and Petrov’s The Twelve Chairs, Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago, a single author, a genre, a literary period, or clear expression of student choice). Conducted in Russian.
- College Catalog