Russian Program Courses

Russian nesting dolls

Fall 2023 Offerings Spring 2023 Offerings Course Info on SIS Archives

Course Descriptions

The list below includes descriptions of all undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Russian Program.

Review specific course requirements for the Russian Program. For up-to-date information on course offerings, schedules, room locations and registration, please visit the Student Information System (SIS).

Russian Language Courses

RUS 1, RUS 2 Elementary Russian. Basic conversation and communication skills. Fundamentals of pronunciation and grammar. Language laboratory. Two courses.

RUS 3, RUS 4 Intermediate Russian. Completion of the formal study of grammar. Emphasis on oral and compositional skills. Prerequisite: Russian 2 or equivalent. Two courses.

RUS 21, RUS 22 Composition and Conversation. Selected grammar topics. Advanced oral and written drill. Compositions, reports, and discussions based on readings of journalistic and literary periodicals and prose. Prerequisite: Russian 4 or equivalent. Two courses.

RUS 99 Internship. Fieldwork at a business, school, government, or community service location that involves substantial use of Russian language (150 hours, full credit; 75 hours, half credit). Weekly journal or project in Russian. Students must arrange faculty advising on campus and professional supervision at the site. May count for the major with prior consent.

RUS 121, RUS 122 Advanced Russian. Classes conducted entirely in Russian, advanced concepts in grammar and stylistics, intensive reading, and discussions. Prerequisite: Russian 22.

RUS 123 Russia Today: Business and Politics. Language course for advanced students of Russian, including native/near-native speakers, focusing on issues of contemporary Russia through the lens of political and business. Topics include the changing business climate within the post-Soviet political landscape, the rise of nationalism and state power, income inequality and new class structures and issues of migration and the gastarbeiter (guest worker). Course material includes newspaper and magazine articles, television reporting, documentaries, and the Internet. Work includes essays and oral reports, and oral exam and a final paper. All work and materials in Russian. Prerequisite: Russian 121/122 or consent.

RUS 125 Russia Today: Society and Culture. Language course for advanced students of Russian, including native/near-native speakers, focusing on society and culture in contemporary Russia. Topics include the revival of the culture industry and its role in the creation of a resurgent Russia and a new 21st century, post-soviet, Russian national identity and society. Course materials include literature, film, music, TV, pop culture and pulp fiction, and the internet. Work includes essays, oral reports and an independent research project. All work and materials in Russian. Prerequisites: RUSS 122 or placement exam and permission of instructor.

Literature and Culture Courses Taught in Russian

RUS 131 Masterpieces of Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature. Reading and discussion of short masterpieces by major authors of nineteenth-century fiction and poetry: Pushkin, Gogol, Lermontov, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Chekhov. Conducted exclusively in Russian. Prerequisite: Russian 22.

RUS 132 Masterpieces of Twentieth-Century Russian Literature. Reading and discussion of short masterpieces by major authors of twentieth-century fiction and poetry: Blok, Akhmatova, Olesha, Bulgakov, Babel, Solzhenitsyn, Tolstaya, and others. Conducted exclusively in Russian. Prerequisite: Russian 22.

Courses Taught in English

RUS 60 Classics of Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature. Major Russian writers and literary currents (sentimentalism, romanticism, the Golden Age of realism) and their relation to social, political, and cultural developments. The evolution of Russian prose fiction with attention to important poetic works. Readings include Pushkin, Gogol, Pavlova, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky. No prerequisites. (May be taken at 100 level with consent; see Russian 160 below.)

RUS 61 Russian Literature in Revolution: 1880-1930. Russian literature in a period of political, cultural, and aesthetic revolution; avant-garde movements before the Bolshevik Revolution (symbolists, decadents, futurists, acmeists) and the dynamic literary response in the 1920s to the revolution itself. Readings include Chekhov, Bely, Blok, Akhmatova, Mayakovsky, Zamyatin, Bulgakov, and others. No prerequisites. Alternate years. (May be taken at 100 level with consent; see Russian 161 below.)

RUS 62 Modern Russian Literature, 1930-Today. Russian literature from the rise of Stalin to the chaos of the contemporary post-Soviet period. Analysis of both socialist-realist and dissident writing. Focus on tensions between ideological-cultural imperatives and artistic freedom through Soviet period as well as in post-modern currents of today. Readings include Bulgakov, Solzhenitsyn, Akhmatova, Tolstaya, Platonov. No prerequisites. Alternate years. (May be taken at 100 level with consent; see Russian 162 below.)

RUS 65 Dostoevsky. Dostoevsky's evolution as a writer and thinker, from his beginnings in socialist utopianism to his emergence as one of Russia's foremost religious philosophers. His exploration of the unconscious, social and moral transgression, revolution, the human condition, and religious truth. Readings include Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Brothers Karamazov. Alternate years. No prerequisites.

RUS 66 Tolstoy. Tolstoy's development as literary master and spiritual force; his life and its counterpoint with the fictional worlds he created. The philosophy of history in War and Peace; morality, social conventions, and sexual roles in Anna Karenina and other works. Tolstoy's spiritual crisis, turn to populism, and the concept of nonresistance to violence. Other readings include Childhood, The Sevastopol Sketches, The Cossacks, and Khadzhi-Murat. Alternate years. No prerequisites.

RUS 70 Gender and Politics in Russian Culture (Cross-listed as ILVS 0074). Examination of how the social, economic, and political institutions in Russia have shaped the perception of women and gender over the scope of Russian history; how both women and men have tried to transcend prescribed gender norms; and how women fulfill their literary, artistic, and spiritual aspirations. Works to be considered will be drawn from folklore, poetry, fiction, painting, and film; authors will include both male and female writers (Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, Tolstaya, Petrushevskaya), women painters (Goncharova, Serebriakova) and filmmakers (Shepitko, Muratova). In English. May be taken at 100- level, as Rus 0170 with added hour in Russian).

RUS 72 Contemporary Russian Culture An exploration of Russian culture through literature, film, the media, and the arts from the era of "stagnation" to glasnost, perestroika, and the post-Soviet period. The destruction and reconstruction of cultural and political canons and myths: the Stalinist legacy and reevaluation of Soviet history; the revival of religion and nationalism; social dislocation: the problems of youth, the generation gap, and women's issues; the breaking of taboos and the dark side of freedom--violence, crime, pornography, and neofascism; the liberalization and commercialization of art. All readings and films are in English. No prerequisites.

RUS 73 The Bible in Russian Literature (Cross-listed as Comparative Religion 73). Appropriation of biblical motifs, characters, and themes for moral, political, and artistic purposes. Emphasis on the varying images of Jesus (teacher, sage, revolutionary) and the devil (tempter, teacher, Promethean); Genesis, Job, and the writer as spiritual visionary and prophet. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Solzhentisyn, Gogol, Zamiatin, Bulgakov, and others. Supplemented by selected readings from the Bible. No prerequisites.

RUS 74 Introduction to Russian Culture A thousand years of Russian culture, exploring Russia as a country at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, West and East. Folk beliefs and traditions, paganism and Orthodox Christianity, to the development of national identity and mythology. Interdisciplinary, multi-media consideration of art, architecture, ballet, opera, literature, and film within the context of cultural exchange and influence between Russia and the West. Topics may include: the myths of St. Petersburg and Moscow in Gogol, Pushkin, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoi; Chekhov, Stanislavsky, and the birth of the modern theater; the Russian Revolution and the Soviet state in the arts; retreading Russia's past in Putin’s Russia. No prerequisites. In English.

RUS 75 War Stories (Cross-listed as ILVS 83 and PJS 75). Examination of how war has been represented in fiction, non-fiction, memoir, film, and documentary. Priority given to Russian and East European materials, supplemented by other European, Asian, and American texts of the 19th and (mainly) 20th and 21st centuries. Focus on strategies employed by writers, journalists, historians, and film makers in depicting war in different cultures and from differing points of view. Operative questions include: challenges of representing war in a text or onscreen; commonalities and differences in how war is rendered; and how these questions impact the understanding of conflicts. The course goal is to develop sophisticated skills for understanding, deciphering, critiquing and dissecting the ways in which war and conflict are presented, and to recognize the ideological and aesthetic strategies behind these representations. All texts and discussion in English.

RUS 78 Warrior Nations: Russia & U.S (Cross-listed as ILVS 88). Comparative study of how war is central to each nation's identity and to the narratives in popular culture that help shape it. Focus is thematic, not chronological, with the course structured around topics, including shared myths of exceptionalism, points of triumph (how WWII is memorialized in both) and catastrophic defeat, when the myth of exceptionalism is shattered (Vietnam, Afghanistan). Other topics include civil war and the cold war. Attention is also directed to how post-1991 changes impact the connection between exceptionalism and militarism regarding wars today and the renewed tension between the two in the dynamics of competing hegemonies. Texts include film, fiction, and popular history. Course taught in English; no prerequisites.

RUS 80 Russian Film: Art, Politics, and Society. Survey of film classics by Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Vertov, Tarkovsky, and others, tracing the parallels between the history of film and the history of the new Soviet state and society. Lenin and film as propaganda; the experimental twenties; cinema verit? (kinopravda); Socialist Realism; the Great Patriotic War; the "thaw"; 1960s to present: conservatives vs. liberals; unbanned films, and the new cinema of glasnost and perestroika. Films with English subtitles. No prerequisites.

RUS 85 Film and Nation: Russia and Central Asia (Cross-listed as ILVS 86 and CIV 85). After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia and several former Central Asian republics, now the independent countries of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan embarked on a nation-building project through cinema; topics considered: how ethnic and national identities were subsumed into a "Soviet" identity and then split apart in the post-Soviet period; constructions of new national identities, national spaces, heroes and myths in films ranging from the Russian mega-hits Brother and Company 9 to the international festival favorites, The Adopted Son (Kyrgyzstan) and The Hunter (Kazakhstan); influence of Hollywood and multi-national productions in historical action films such as Nomad and Mongol; changes in film styles and genres, as well as in the structure and economics of the film industry. No prerequisites. All films with English subtitles.

RUS 114 Satire and Absurdist Literature. Comparative investigation of the modes, intentions, and reception of satiric and absurdist writing in the twentieth century. Includes other Slavic literatures, particularly Czech. Focus on the writer as political voice and public conscience. Priority given to development of critical skills in talking, reading, and writing about controversial texts in a variety of sociopolitical contexts. Seminar format. No prerequisites.

RUS 115 Stalinism. Examination of Stalinism as a cultural phenomenon in the Soviet Union through an array of primary sources: fiction, diaries, memoirs, art, film, mass media, letters, and party documents. Key issues include the cult of Stalin, the purges and terror, everyday life, and the state of the arts. Emphasis on how the system modeled itself to increase appeal, reach, and power; and the diverse responses of the people. Special attention devoted to the expression of ideology in culture and the lived experience of the average person. No prerequisites. Seminar format.

RUS 160 Classics of Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature. (See Russian 60 for course description.) Additional readings in Russian and extra class meetings.

RUS 161 Russian Literature in Revolution: 1880-1930. (See Russian 61 for course description.) Additional readings in Russian and extra class meetings.

RUS 162 Modern Russian Literature, 1930-Today
(See Russian 62 for course description.) Additional readings in Russian and extra class meetings.

RUS 170 Women in Russian Literature and Culture
(See Russian 70 for course description.) Additional readings in Russian and extra class meetings.

Special Topics and Directed Studies in Russian

RUS 91, RUS 92 Special Topics. Courses on selected themes and authors given in English. Members of the department

RUS 93, RUS 94 Directed Study: Language or Literature. Guided independent study of an approved topic. Variable credit.

RUS 165 Dostoevsky. (See Russian 65 for course description.) Additional readings in Russian and extra class meetings.

RUS 166 Tolstoy. (See Russian 66 for course description.) Additional readings in Russian and extra class meetings.

RUS 191, RUS 192 Special Topics. Study of selected authors, themes, genres, or literary movements given in Russian. Seminar or lecture/discussion format.

RUS 193, RUS 194 Advanced Directed Study: Language or Literature. Guided independent study of an approved topic conducted in Russian. Variable credit.

RUS 198, RUS 199 Senior Honors Thesis. See Thesis Honors Program for details.