Russian Studies Department

Professor: Alexis Klimoff; Associate Professor: Dan Ungurianu (Chair); Assistant Professor: Nikolai Firtich (Director, Vassar Program in St. Petersburga); Lecturer: Elena Boudovskaia.

Requirements for Concentration: 10 units beyond introductory language; including Russian Studies 331/332 or equivalent, Russian Studies 135/235, 152/252, plus 3 units in literature or culture at the 300-level.

Senior-Year Requirements: 2 units of advanced course work. Senior thesis (Russian Studies 300) is required of students who are candidates for departmental honors.

Recommendations: Study of the language is best started in the freshman year. Study Away in Russian through the Vassar Program in St. Petersburg is strongly recommended.

Advisers: The department.

Correlate Sequence in Russian Studies: Four semesters of the Russian language (or equivalent) and three additional units in culture, literature and/or language, one of which must be at the 300-level. Entering students with advanced proficiency in Russian are required to take five units in literature and/or culture, at least two of which are at the 300-level.

I. Introductory

105a-106b. Elementary Russian(1 1/2)

The essentials of grammar with emphasis on the development of oral-aural proficiency. The department.

Open to all classes. Five 50-minute periods plus two hours of oral practice.

107b. Intensive Introductory Russian(2)

Single-semester equivalent of Russian 105-106. Intensive training in fundamental language skills. Designed for beginning students who wish to accelerate their learning of Russian. The department.

Open to all classes.

Five 75-minute periods, plus four 30-minute drill and conversation sessions.

[ 131b. Russian Screen and Stage (in English) ](1)

Aspects of Russian film, drama, and performing arts.

Topic for 2009/10: Russian Cinema in its European Context. A survey of Russian cinema from the 1920s to our days. Films considered include the early masterpieces directed by Eisenstein, Dovzhenko, Vertov and others, productions of the Stalin era, movies dating from the "Thaw" and the following decades, including the great works of Tarkovsky and Paradjanov, films from the years of "glasnost" and beyond. Readings include critical and theoretical articles by filmmakers and film critics. Given in English. Mr. Firtich.

Open to all classes. Readings and lectures in English. Russian majors see Russian Studies 231b.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2009/10

135a. The Russian Classics: The Great Realists of the Nineteenth Century (in English)(1)

The great tradition of Russian literature with its emphasis on ultimate existential and moral questions. Selected works by such nineteenth-century masters as Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky. Mr. Ungurianu.

Open to all classes. Readings and lectures in English. Russian majors see Russian Studies 235a.

Two 75-minute periods.

[ 141b. Tolstoy in Battle (in English) ](1)

The representation of war in Tolstoy's fiction, centered on a detailed analysis of War and Peace, with this classic novel considered in the context of the writer's earlier and later war narratives, including Sebastopol Tales and "Hadji Murat." Tolstoy is also viewed as a "combatant" in the sense of one who tirelessly challenged accepted notions in aesthetics, ethics, religion, philosophy, history, and politics. Mr. Firtich.

All readings and discussions in English.

Open to all classes.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2009/10.

142b. Dostoevsky and Psychology (in English)(1)

Fyodor Dostoevsky was an avid student of the human mind, with particular interest in aberrant and self-destructive behavior. He was steeped in the medical literature of his day, and drew on this knowledge as well as on his four-year-long prison experience to endow his characters with fascinating psychological depth. And after Dostoevsky's death, his works have been cited by Freud and some other psychologists to support theories of their own. This course focuses on a number of works in which Dostoevsky's depiction of psychological issues is particularly crucial to the central message he attempts to convey. Readings include three of the major novels (Crime and Punishment, The Devils, and The Brothers Karamazov) as well as a number of Dostoevsky's shorter works. A detailed examination of the texts is accompanied by a discussion of the nineteenth century psychological literature which was admired by Dostoevsky, as well as that which was later produced under his influence. Mr. Klimoff.

All readings and discussion in English.

Two 75-minute periods plus a 50-minute discussion session.

152b. The Russian Modernists (in English)(1)

Outstanding works of major twentieth-century Russian writers, with emphasis on those who broke with the realist tradition of the nineteenth century. Mr. Firtich.

Open to all classes. Readings and lectures in English. Russian majors see 252b.

Two 75-minute periods.

165a. From Fairy-Tales to Revolution: Russian Culture through the End of the Imperial Period (in English)(1)

A survey of the most striking features of the prerevolutionary cultural tradition within a historical framework. Topics explored include folklore, the religious world of medieval Russia with special emphasis on art and architecture the challenges of Westernization, and the emergence of national traditions in literature, art, and music, Russian historiosophy, ideology of radicalism and the revolutionary movement. Mr. Ungurianu.

Open to all classes. All readings and discussion in English.

Two 75-minute periods plus occasional film screenings.

[ 169b. Utopia in Power: Russian Culture in the Twentieth Century (in English) ](1)

A survey of modern Russian culture in its historical context with the main focus on the "Soviet Experiment" that had major implications for the global political landscape of the twentieth century. Topics include cultural and social revolutions, the Red Avant-Garde, Socialist Realism, the creation of the New Man, the Great Terror, the Soviet system and its collapse, internationalism and resurgent nationalisms, Russian rock and pop music, post-Communist Russia. Mr. Ungurianu.

Open to all classes. All readings and discussions are in English.

Two 75-minute periods, plus occasional film screenings.

Not offered in 2009/10.

171b. Russia and the Short Story (in English)(1)

In this course we read and discuss a number of classic short stories by such Russian masters of the genre as Gogol, Turgenev, Chekhov, Babel, and Olesha. Mr. Klimoff.

Satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods.

173b. Focus on Literature (in English)(1)

Aspects of the Russian literary tradition-including authors, genres, and thematic emphases-and the place of this tradition in world literature.

Topic for 2009/10a: Topic for 2009/10a: Beyond the Looking Glass: Nonsense and Absurd in Russian and European Literature and Visual Arts.This course investigates anti-rational movements in 20th century literature and visual arts, including theatre and film, such as the Russian Alogism and Transrational (Beyond Mind) Language, DADA, Surrealism, Absurdist literature in Russia, and the French Theatre of the Absurd. The authors and artists include Andrei Bely, Franz Kafka, Aleksey Kruchenykh, Velimir Khlebnikov, Kazimir Malevich, Vassily Kandinsky, Marc Chagall, Daniil Kharms, Samuel Beckett, and Eugene Ionesco. We trace the connections between these developments and their 19th century antecedents in the work of  such masters of English Nonsense as Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll and also give special attention to the unsurpassed Russian absurdist genius Nikolai Gogol. Mr. Firtich.

All readings and discussion in English.

Incantations, Spells, and Charms: Slavic Folklore and Demonology (in English)

This course surveys the rich world of Slavic folklore with an emphasis on mythological and anthropological patterns whose influence persists in the mentality of Russians and other Slavic peoples. We begin with traditional oral genres and their role in peoples' life, and trace their development up to the contemporary city folklore, touching upon folklore motives in literature and film. In our discussion of Slavic demonology, we also compare the mythical creatures of Slavic folklore with their West European counterparts. Ms. Boudovskaia.

Open to all classes. All lectures and readings in English.

II. Intermediate

210a-211b. Intermediate Russian(1)

Review of the basics of grammar and analysis of more complex grammatical phenomena through the study of literary, historical, and newspaper texts, composition, and discussion. The department.

Prerequisite: Russian 105-106 or permission of instructor.

Four 50-minute periods plus one hour of oral practice.

[ 231b. Russian Screen and Stage ](1)

Aspects of Russian film, drama and performing arts.

Topic for 2009/10: Russian Cinema in its European Context. Individually designed for Russian majors and other students with some knowledge of Russian. Students in this course attend the same lectures and discussions as those in Russian 131b, but are required to do part of the work in Russian. Mr. Firtich.

By permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2009/10

235a. The Russian Classics: The Great Realists of the Nineteenth Century(1)

Individually designed for Russian majors and other students with some knowledge of Russian. Students in this course attend the same lectures and discussions as those in Russian 135, but are required to do part of the work in Russian.

By permission of instructor.

252b. The Russian Modernists(1)

Individually designed for Russian majors and other students with some knowledge of Russian. Students in this course attend the same lectures and discussions as those in Russian 152, but are required to do part of the work in Russian.

By permission of instructor.

[ 267a. Culture and Ideology ](1)

Not offered in 2009/10.

273b. Focus on Literature(1)

Aspects of the Russian literary tradition—including authors, genres, and thematic emphases—and the place of this tradition in world literature.

Topic for 2009/10a: Topic for 2009/10a: Beyond the Looking Glass: Nonsense and Absurd in Russian and European Literature and Visual Arts.This course investigates anti-rational movements in 20th century literature and visual arts, including theatre and film, such as the Russian Alogism and Transrational (Beyond Mind) Language, DADA, Surrealism, Absurdist literature in Russia, and the French Theatre of the Absurd. The authors and artists include Andrei Bely, Franz Kafka, Aleksey Kruchenykh, Velimir Khlebnikov, Kazimir Malevich, Vassily Kandinsky, Marc Chagall, Daniil Kharms, Samuel Beckett, and Eugene Ionesco. We trace the connections between these developments and their 19th century antecedents in the work of  such masters of English Nonsense as Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll and also give special attention to the unsurpassed Russian absurdist genius Nikolai Gogol. Mr. Firtich.

Students in this course attend the same lectures and discussions as those in Russian 173, but are required to do part of the work in Russian.

By permission of the instructor.

298. Independent Work(1/2 or 1)

Program to be worked out in consultation with an instructor. The department.

III. Advanced

Prerequisite for all advanced courses: Russian 210-211. Additional prerequisites indicated where appropriate.

300a or b. Senior Thesis(1)

331a/332b. Advanced Russian(1)

A course designed to increase all aspects of Russian proficiency. Includes readings on a wide range of topics, discussion, oral reports, stylistic analysis, written assignments, and review of persistent grammatical difficulties. The department.

Three 50-minute periods, plus one hour of conversational practice.

371a and b. Seminar on Russian Culture(1)

Advanced seminar on Russian culture. Designed for majors and students with sufficient knowledge of Russian.

Topic for 2009/10a: The Myth of St. Petersburg. In this course, we explore the myth of the imperial Russian capital, founded by Peter the Great in the early eighteenth century as a "window on Europe." The city has embodied all of the contradictions of Russia: East vs. West, imperial grandeur vs. the pathos of the little man, nature vs. civilization, free will vs. fate. We consider the semiotics of space in St. Petersburg through a careful reading of selected literary texts—both prose and poetry—including Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Blok, Bely, Akhmatova, Mandelstam, and Brodsky, as well as some works of literary and cultural criticism. Mr. Firtich.

Conducted in Russian.

Prerequisite: Russian 331 or equivalent.

Topic for 2009/10b: Russian Blockbusters. Modern culture includes the phenomenon of "film classics"—productions of enduring popular appeal which, though not necessarily considered great achievement of cinematic art, have become universally recognized cultural symbols within a national group. This course involves a close study of several Russian films of this type, including comedies, war films, spy and detective stories, musicals, and sci-fi films. Mr. Ungurianu.

Conducted in Russian.

Prerequisite: Russian 331 or equivalent.

[ 373b. Seminar on Russian Literature ](1)

Focused analysis of an author, work, theme, genre, or literary school in the nineteenth or twentieth century.

Not offered in 2009/10.

399. Senior Independent Work(1/2 or 1)

Program to be worked out in consultation with an instructor. The department.

Vassar Program in St. Petersburg

105a. Elementary Russian(1 1/2)

The essentials of grammar with emphasis on the development of oral-aural proficiency.

166a. Facets of Russian Culture(1)

Selected aspects of Russian culture presented in historical context. Includes consideration of architectural, literary, musical, theatrical, and other notable expressions of Russia's creative spirit. Given in English.

Three hours per week, plus excursions.

175a. The Hermitage Collection Through History(1)

A survey of the major collections of the Hermitage Museum's paintings and prints, presented in the context of the history of their acquisition, exhibition, and appreciation. Given in English.

Three hours of lectures per week, plus extensive viewing of art in the museum.

176a. Icons to Avant-Garde: Russian Art in St. Petersburg(1)

A historical survey, based on the exhibits of Russian art in several museums of St. Petersburg. Given in English.

Three hours of lectures per week, plus extensive viewing of museum art.

210a. Intermediate Russian(1)

Review of the basics of grammar and analysis of more complex grammatical phenomena through the study of literary, historical, and newspaper texts, composition, and discussion.

275a. The Hermitage Collection Through History(1)

(Same as 175) The 275 option is available for students who have taken Art 105-106 at Vassar College or the equivalent elsewhere. Involves additional meetings with the instructor in connection with an individualized research project. May be counted toward Art History major credit.

278a. Icons to Avant-Garde: Russian Art in St. Petersburg(1)

(Same as 176) The 278 option is available for advanced students who undertake individualized research in addition to 176. May be counted toward Art History major credit.

331a. Advanced Russian(1)

A course designed to increase all aspects of Russian proficiency. Includes readings on a wide range of topics, discussion, oral reports, stylistic analysis, written assignments, and review of persistent grammatical difficulties.