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The Russian Area Studies program is designed to give students knowledge of the Russian language, to help students better understand Russian culture and the situation in the Russian Federation, and Central Asia and to prepare students for continued study at the graduate level. The geopolitical location and vast size of this area ensure that it will continue to play a critically important role in the world.
Russia is a natural subject for a multidisciplinary approach. The struggle to improve conditions of life in that country has constituted a common project engaging social, political, economic, and religious thinkers, historians, philosophers, writers, and artists. No one area, approach, or way of knowing has developed in isolation from the others.
The Russian Area Studies program offers two tracks for a major (one disciplinary and one interdisciplinary), and two tracks for a minor (one disciplinary and one interdisciplinary). The interdisciplinary track involves a concentration in Russian History and Society, while the disciplinary track involves a concentration in Russian Language for the minor and Russian Language and Culture for the major. Note that a student may not satisfy the graduation requirements for both disciplinary and interdisciplinary within the field of Russian Area Studies. Only courses for which the student has received a grade of C- or better will be counted toward either of the majors or minors. A term abroad in one of the Colleges’ programs is strongly recommended for either major. Indeed, registration in Russian language courses after RUS 202 generally requires students to have completed an intensive language study program, defined as a summer or semester long program in the U.S. or Russia. (If in the U.S., this must be a program explicitly designed to offer an intensive language experience, typically incorporating a language pledge and regular interaction with native speakers and other learners in the target language outside of formal classes.)
RUSSIAN HISTORY AND SOCIETY MAJOR
interdisciplinary, 11 courses
RUSE 112 Introduction to Russian Literature
HIST 263 The Russian Land
Three Russian language courses, starting with RUS 102.
Two courses from the Russian area studies Humanities electives.
Three courses from the Russian area studies Social Science electives.
One additional course either in Russian language or from the Russian area studies electives.
Restrictions: At least two courses must be at the 300-level or above. No more than one course can come from the Contextual Courses category. Students are encouraged to take at least three years of language study.
RUSSIAN LANGUAGE AND CULTURE MAJOR
disciplinary, 11 courses
RUSE 112 Introduction to Russian Literature
HIST 263 The Russian Land
Seven Russian language courses, starting with RUS 102.
Two non-language courses from the Russian Area Studies offerings, one of which must be from the Humanities and one of which must be from the Social Sciences.
Restrictions: No course from the list of Contextual Courses will count towards the major. Students pursuing the disciplinary major should plan to spend at least one semester studying abroad in Russia.
RUSSIAN LANGUAGE MINOR
disciplinary, 6 courses
Six Russian language courses starting with RUS 102.
RUSSIAN AREA STUDIES MINOR
interdisciplinary, 6 courses
RUSE 112 Tsars, Mad Cats, and Comrades: Introduction to Russian Literature
HIST 263 The Russian Land
Four courses from the Russian Area Studies electives selected in consultation with an advisor.
Restrictions: Two courses must be in the Social Sciences. No courses from the list of Contextual Courses may count toward the minor
ENG 360 20th-Century Central European Fiction
HIST 263 The Russian Land: 1000 to 2000
HIST 367 Women and the Russian State (offered occasionally)
RUSE 206 America through Russian Eyes (also offered as AMST 206)
RUSE 112 Tsar, Mad Cats, and Comrades: Introduction to Russian Literature
RUSE 137 Vampires: From Vlad to Buffy
RUSE 203 Russian Prison Literature
RUSE 204 Russian Film
RUSE 237 Russian Folklore
RUSE 350 Dead Russians, Big Books: Survey of 19th-Century Russian Literature
RUSE 351 Survey of 20th-Century Russian Literature
RUSE 352 Nabokov
RUSE 460 Senior Seminar in Russian Area Studies
Social Sciences Electives
BIDS 120 Russia and the Environment
ECON 146 The Russian Economy
HIST 260 19th-Century Russian Modernity through Literature
HIST 261 20th-Century Eurasia
HIST 394 Russia and Central Asia
HIST 396 History and the Fate of Socialism
POL 257 Russia and China Unraveled
Cannot count for either of the minors or for the Language and Culture major; maximum of one can count for the History and Society major.
ECON 233 Comparative Economic Systems and Institutions
ECON 236 Introduction to Radical Political Economy
ECON 240 International Trade
ECON 344 Economic Development and Planning
HIST 238 World Wars in Global Perspective
HIST 276 The Age of Dictators
POL 140 Introduction to Comparative Politics
POL 245 Europe East and West
POL 379 Radical Thought Left and Right
SOC 300 Classical Sociological Theory
COURSES TAUGHT IN RUSSIAN (RUS)
101, 102 Introductory Russian I and II An introduction to the Russian language designed particularly to develop listening, speaking, reading and writing. Instruction and practice rely heavily on technological tools such as CD-ROMs, computerized drilling exercises, and interactive web activities. Weekly laboratory is mandatory.
201, 202 Intermediate Russian I and II The aim of these courses is to develop further the basic language skills acquired in the introductory courses. An intensive study of grammatical structures with a continued emphasis on oral and written skills, they include supplementary reading with vocabulary useful for everyday situations and creative writing based on course material. Audio/video tapes and computers are used.
310, 311 Selected Topics: Russian Literature and Culture Advanced Russian language and culture courses for students who have completed at least two full years of language study and are preparing to study abroad in Russia. These courses offer topics from a broad range of choices, including literary texts, poetry, film and avant-garde writers and incorporate written and oral reports, grammar review, and weekly journals. These courses are designed for students who have performed exceptionally well in RUS 202 or the equivalent, such as an intensive summer program. Meets concurrently with RUS 410/411. Permission only.
410, 411 Selected Topics: Russian Literature and Culture Highly advanced Russian language and culture courses for students who have already achieved the fourth level of language study. These courses offer topics from a broad range of choices, including literary texts, poetry, film and avant-garde writers. These courses incorporate written and oral reports and weekly journals. The courses may be repeated for credit.
450 Independent Study
COURSES TAUGHT IN ENGLISH (RUSE)
112 Tsars, Mad Cats, and Comrades: Introduction to Russian Literature This course serves as the introductory literature and culture course for Russian Area Studies as well as the major and minor. It introduces students to the dominant literary and cultural traditions from 1800-2000, with particular emphasis on developments in poetry and prose, but also with reference to movements in art, music, theater, and dance. Students will gain experience in close readings of texts in order to better understand the Russian cultural tradition and the manner in which Russian literature and history intertwine. Note: this course requires no previous knowledge of Russian literature or history.
115 The Trans-Siberian Railway Western conceptions of Europe often omit Russia, just as conceptions of Asia proceed no further north than China, ignoring Asiatic Russia and Mongolia. This course will explore all three countries through the lens of the Trans-Siberian railway which links them, focusing on broad topics of contemporary culture, economic development and political changes of the past two decades. We will critically examine the ways in which the railway affects our notions of culture. In particular, we will consider issues such as the nature of "West" and "East," historical memory and the nature of cities, the legacies of Communism and challenges of free-market economies, and the ecological issues of modern tourism.
137 Vampires: From Vlad to Buffy This course examines the vampire from its historical roots in the legend of Vlad Tepes to the American commercialization and popularization of the vampire in media such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Students discuss the qualities of the folkloric vampire and its role in traditional culture, how the folkloric vampire has evolved over time and across cultural borders, and why the vampire is such a pervasive cultural icon. The approach is interdisciplinary, using folktales, short stories, legends, novels, films, television shows, and analytical studies. All materials are read in English. (Galloway, offered annually)
203 Russian Prison Literature The Soviet system of prisons and labor camps operated for much of the 20th century. Under dictator Josef Stalin, millions of the country’s own citizens were imprisoned on false charges for years, worked to death in Siberian mines, or executed outright. The perpetrators of these crimes have never been brought to justice. In this course students read from the literature that arose in response to this tragedy: works by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Varlam Shalamov, Lidia Ginzburg, and Georgii Vladimov. The course is open to all students regardless of level, and all readings will be in English translation. (Galloway, Spring)
204 Russian Film This course is an introduction to the most important trends, directors, and films in Russian cinema from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. Students are exposed to a wide range of movies, including early silent films, experimental films of the 1920s and early 1930s, socialist realist films, films on World War II and Soviet life, and films from contemporary Russia. All readings are in English and all films shown with English subtitles. Due to the rich heritage of Russian cinema, this course does not claim to be an exhaustive treatment of all the great Russian films, but rather aims to acquaint students with the overall contours of Russian filmmaking and with the fundamentals of reading film. (Welsh, Spring)
205 From Hasidism to Communism and Back: The Russian-Soviet Jewish Experience through Literature The course will concentrate on the contexts of Jewish-Russian literary identity inside and outside the boundaries of Russia from mid-19th century to the present by discussing and testing the limits of cultural assimilation and the boundaries of self-identity. It will cover the most important aspects of Russian-Jewish coexistence, and will focus on the cultural, linguistic and ideological transformation of Russian Jews in the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries from pious Yiddish-speaking shtetl dwellers to secular Russian-speaking urbanites. Students will explore the richness of Russian-Jewish cultural heritage through the prism of historical documents, fiction, poetry, memoirs, and movies which were originally created in a variety of Jewish and non-Jewish languages. Special attention will be given to the experience of women and to their role in society, their creativity, and their relationships with men. Literary works of major 19th-20th-century Russian-Jewish writers, combined with lectures on art, religion, history, and politics will provide primary sources for discussion.
206 America through Russian Eyes (also offered as AMST 206) How do you define America? Does your definition mesh with what the rest of the world might think? This course explores American culture and identity through readings and films by American and Russian poets, novelists, and directors. From Red scares through the Cold War and Evil Empire all the way to the New Russians, twentieth- and twenty-first-century Americans and Russians have shared a deep mutual fascination, and have often defined themselves via contrast with the forbidding, alluring Other. We will study travelogues, memoirs, novels, stories, and films by artists as diverse as John Steinbeck, Langston Hughes, Gary Shteyngart, Ellen Litman, and Aleksei Balabanov, using these works to refine our own understanding of American culture. All readings and discussions will be in English. Register for either AMST 206 (prerequisite: AMST 100 or AMST 101 or HIST 105) or RUSE 206 (prerequisite: RUSE 112 or HIST 263). (Welsh, offered alternate years)
237 Russian Folklore In this course, students survey the wealth of Russian and Slavic folk tales, epic songs, legends, riddles and other elements of the oral tradition, as well as the later literatures these genres inspired. Students examine characters such as the Firebird, Baba-Yaga the witch, Koshchei the Deathless, and Ilya Muromets. Materials are not restricted to the printed word and include art and music arising from the Russian folk tradition. There are no prerequisites and no knowledge of Russian language or culture is presumed. (Galloway, Spring, offered alternate years)
350 Dead Russians, Big Books: Survey of 19th Century Russian Literature (In translation) Nineteenth century Russian writers recorded “the ‘body and pressure of time’” and mapped the human heart, exploring relationships between men and women, sexuality, issues of good and evil, and the alienated individual’s search for meaning in the modern world. In brilliant, yet deliberately accessible work, prose writers recorded the conflict and struggle of their distinctively Russian cultural tradition, with its own understanding of ideas about religion, freedom, and the self, and its own attitudes toward culture, historical, and social order. Open to students of all levels. (Offered occasionally)
351 Survey of 20th Century Russian Literature (In translation) In the 20th century, Russia’s “other voices” continued to express the souls and spirit of individual men and women, but now under the profound impact of historical events from revolution and world wars through glasnost and perestroika. Witnessing and experiencing great suffering, these heroic writers could neither remain silent under censorship nor write the socialist realist propaganda dictated by the Soviet government. Open to students of all levels. (Offered alternate years)
352 Nabokov Vladimir Nabokov’s writing sends chills up the spine. Some readers admire the brilliance of his prose style, the complexity of the games and puzzles imbedded in his work, and the beauty of the links he establishes between the “real” world and one that exists in an alternate realm. Other readers condemn him or his literary works as elitist, politically apathetic, and unforgivably obscene. His novels Lolita (#4) and Pale Fire (#53) appear on the Modern Library Board’s list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century, but in the 1950s, Lolita was banned in the UK and France. The Soviet Union banned it, too, along with everything else Nabokov wrote, until 1988. Nabokov was born in Russia in 1899. He fled the Bolsheviks in 1919, earned a degree at Cambridge, settled in Berlin, and fled again, this time from the Nazis, to the United States. Before leaving his European exile for an American one, Nabokov had published nine novels in Russian, yet these works are largely unknown to American readers. This course provides a detailed introduction to the Russian Nabokov, focusing on works composed between 1922 and 1940, and will include novels, short stories, autobiographical writing, and critical essays. All readings, discussions, and written work will be done in English. Special arrangements may be made for students wishing to read texts first written in Russian or French in the original language. No prerequisites; closed to first-year students. (Welsh, offered every third year)
450 Independent Study
460 Senior Seminar Designed for advanced majors in Russian Area Studies (both the History and Society and Language and Culture tracks), this seminar will expose students to current scholarship across the disciplines of Russian Area Studies and enhance students’ approach to research. Each seminar will be based upon fictional (novels, stories, plays, films) and non-fictional (memoirs, speeches, newspapers, journals, documents) works relating to a central theme; the theme will change from year to year based on students’ areas of specialization. The seminar will explore a variety of approaches to the theme, with special attention to the sub-fields of greatest interest to class members. Other Russian Area Studies faculty will be invited to lead a session of the seminar, giving participants immediate access to a variety of disciplinary approaches (political science, economics, history, musicology, literary criticism) toward the course theme. Students will identify, assign, and lead discussions of critical and contextual sources, and will develop and complete a research paper. Potential themes include: Soviet culture and society during the Second World War; Russia in transition; Man and nature in Russia; the soldier in the Russian imagination; Petersburg. Suggested core texts include: War and Peace or Anna Karenina (Tolstoy), The Brothers Karamazov or Crime and Punishment (Dostoyevsky), Dead Souls (Gogol), Petersburg (Bely), Odessa Stories (Babel), Master and Margarita (Bulgakov), In the First Circle (Solzhenitsyn), Siberia on Fire (Rasputin), House on the Embankment (Trifonov), Children of the Arbat (Rybakov), The Line (Sorokin). Open to juniors and seniors majoring in either track of Russian Area Studies. (Offered alternate years)