Russian Program Courses

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Fall 2023 Offerings Spring 2024 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 1 / RUS 2 Intensive Elementary Russian. Introduction to basic communication skills in Russian: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Fundamentals of Russian grammar: alphabet and sound system, simple and complex sentences, main parts of speech, verb conjugation, use of nouns and adjectives in all six cases. Topics such as family and friends, university life, personal characteristics and possessions, food and clothing, leisure time, and health. Introduction to Russian culture through songs, cartoons, short readings, and film/video clips. Students may not earn credit for RUS 01/2 if RUS 1 or RUS 2 has already been taken.

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 Today's Russia: 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 124 Today's Russia: Media & Blogosphere. Language course for advanced Russian language students, as well as for native and near-native speakers. Present-day mass communication in Russia. Topics may include the role of social media and the blogosphere; independent media versus state television; new generation of journalists (e.g., Yuri Dud’, Alexey Pivovarov) and the dangers they face; the role of independent TV channels and newspapers (e.g., Dozhd’, Novaya) and the violation of constitutional rights of internet users. Films, documentaries, TV programs, print media, and internet platforms. Course work includes readings and screenings, oral presentations and discussions, written essays, and a final independent research project. In Russian. Prerequisite: RUS 121 or RUS 122; or placement exam and consent.

RUS 125 Today's Russia: 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.
Recommendations:  RUS 122 or placement exam and permission of instructor.

RUS 126 Today's Russia: From "Boomers" to "Zoomers." Language course for advanced Russian language students, as well as for native and near-native speakers. Focus on post-Soviet generations and how those born after the fall of the Soviet Union fundamentally differ from their parents and grandparents. Topics may include individualism versus collective responsibility; new gendered roles; a generation without fear: opposition and protests versus nostalgia for the Soviet Union; state response: controversial new laws to ban “unsanctioned meetings” and gay and lesbian “propaganda”; and the relationship between the state and the Orthodox Church. Newspaper articles, film, music, pop culture and pulp fiction, and internet platforms. In Russian. Prerequisite: RUS 121 or RUS 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 & 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 Culture. Examination of Russian literature, including film and art, from the Revolution to the breakup of the Soviet Union. Emphasis on both dissident and official portrayals of society. Topics include utopian visions of Soviet life and the family, the cult of Stalin and the Terror, the labor camps, and the moral and ethical responsibility of the artist. No prerequisites. May be taken at 100-level.

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. 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). Cross-listed as ILVS 0074.

RUS 71 Love & Sexuality in World Literature. Representations of love and sexuality in Japanese and Russian literature.  Specific issues to be addressed across a diverse body of literature, film, and art include 1) the fusion of sexuality and romance, 2) love as a problem versus love as an ideal, 3) societal conventions as to so-called proper or normative behavior (the various ways hetero- and homosexuality, celibacy, and hedonism have been understood and commented upon in artistic media). All discussions and readings in English. Cross-listed as CIV 71, ILVS 71 and JPN 71.

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 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. 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. Cross-listed as ILVS 83 and PJS 75.

RUS 76 Stalinism. The cultural, social and artistic sides of life under Stalinism. Topics include the Terror, the Gulag, and the Cult of Personality as well as the personal experiences and survival techniques of everyday people during this period. Literature, film, visual arts, memoirs, and diaries. In English. 

RUS 78 Warrior Nations: Russia & U.S. 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. Cross-listed as ILVS 88.

JS 79 Jewish Voices in Russian Culture. The identity and self-identity of Russian-Jewish authors and characters from the standpoints of literary analyses, cultural ethnography, folklore, visual studies, and social and political history. Discussion of primary sources, including literary works, visual media, popular songs, and lectures on art, religion, and theater and dance, either written or produced in English, or translated into English from Russian and Yiddish. Topics include the responses of Russian and Soviet Jewish writers to such topics as Zionism, the Russian Revolution, and the Holocaust with specific attention to anti-Semitism, emigration, limits of assimilation, and the future of Jews in Russia, Israel, and America. No prerequisites. Cross-listed as JS 79.

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. Cross-listed as FMS 80.

RUS 85 Film and Nation: Russia and Central Asia. 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. Cross-listed as ILVS 86, CIV 85 and FMS 85.

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 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 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.

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

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.

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