Russian Studies Department

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. Elementary Russian (1)

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

Yearlong course 105-106.

Open to all classes.

Five 50-minute periods plus two hours of oral practice.

106b. Elementary Russian (1)

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

Yearlong course 105-106.

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 periods.

131. Russian Screen and Stage (in English) (1)

Aspects of Russian film, drama, and performing arts.

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

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2013/14.

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 235.

Two 75-minute periods.

141. 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 2013/14.

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 drew on his observations of people from all strata of society and his four-year-long prison experience to endow his characters with fascinating psychological depth. After Dostoevsky's death, his works have been cited by Freud, existentialist philosophers and others 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 PunishmentThe Devils, and The Brothers Karamazov) as well as a number of Dostoevsky's shorter works. This course entails detailed examinations of the texts and discussion of how Dostoevsky’s works relate to current psychological issues and problems. Mr. Arndt III.

All readings and discussion are in English.

Two 75-minute periods.

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 252.

Two 75-minute periods.

153a. Russian Sci-Fi Cinema (in English) (1/2)

A survey of the rich tradition of Russian cinematic science fiction, from mainstream entertainment to the philosophical masterpieces of Andrei Tarkovsky. Subjects include futuristic fantasies of the 1920s and 1930s, scientific experiments gone astray, post-apocalyptic visions, space travel and journeys of the mind, intergalactic romance and humorous takes on the genre. Taught in English. Mr. Ungurianu.

Second 6-week course.

Two 75-minute periods, plus weekly screenings.

155b. WW II in Russian Cinema (in English) (1/2)

The most massive armed conflict in history, World War II also inspired an unprecedented number of films. Many of them are inevitably imbued with patriotic propaganda, yet others strive to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of war, an event that, in Leo Tolstoy’s words, is opposed to human reason and to all human nature. The course samples seminal Russian works of the genre produced from the late 1940s to our days against changing historical and ideological backgrounds. Special attention is given to cinematic masterpieces exploring war as an existential experience that probes the limits of humanity, such as The Cranes Are Flying (1957), Ivan’s Childhood(1962), The Ascent (1976), and Come and See (1985). Taught in English. Mr. Ungurianu.

Second 6-week course.

Two 75-minute periods, plus weekly screenings.

165. From Fairy-Tales to Revolution: Russian Culture through the End of 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.

Not offered in 2013/14.

168. Vampires, Monks, and Holy Fools: The Mystical in Russia and Eastern Europe (1)

Focusing on these three phenomena of the Eastern European and Russian cultural-spiritual landscape will allow us to explore a number of subthemes. While examining Eastern European vampire legends, we will encounter regional folk beliefs and the paradoxical coexistence of pagan and Christian views concerning such things as liminal spaces, the unpredictability of evil, and the role of the undead. Comparisons will be made between early vampire stories and vampire incarnations in British and American literature and pop-culture. Our foray into Russian Orthodox monasticism will provide insight into the significance of mysticism, anchoritism, piety, and apocalypticism in Russia. Lastly, our study of the often scandalous and provocative behavior of the Holy Fool will help us understand how a seemingly carnivalesque inversion of values can serve as a spiritual beacon. The course will be a combination of short readings and films. Course materials and discussion will be in English. No prior knowledge of Russia or Eastern Europe is required. Mr. Arndt III.

Open to all classes.

Two 75 minute periods, plus occasional film screenings.

Not offered in 2013/14.

169. The Great Utopia: Ideals and Realities of the Russian Revolution (in English) (1)

The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the ensuing "Soviet Experiment" had major implications for the global political and ideological landscape of the twentieth century. The revolutionary era also saw an explosive proliferation of bold futuristic visions and utopian projects. The course explores reflections of the Revolution in literature, theatre, film, painting and other arts against a broad historical background. Topics include apocalyptic premonitions of the fin-de-siècle, Russian Cosmism and dreams of earthly immortality, competition among revolutionary ideologies, the art of avant-garde, Agitprop and Proletkult, Constructivism, Socialist Realism, the creation of the New Man, Stalin's "Empire Style" and return of traditionalism, and a new – and final – wave of revolutionary aspirations during Khrushchev's "Thaw." The department.

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

Two 75-minute periods, plus occasional film screenings.

Not offered in 2013/14.

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. The department.

Satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods.

173a and b. 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. Russian majors see Russian 273.

Topic for 2013/14a: Escaping the Eternal Feminine: Women Writers and the Russian Literary Canon. This course is a survey of the major literary achievements by women writers in Russia and the Soviet Union. While seldom studied as a cohesive literary tradition, women writers have made tremendous contributions to the Russian literary canon and continue to shape the trajectory of Russian literature to this day. The readings for this course will cover major literary genres, including prose, poetry, memoir and drama from the nineteenth century to the present. Lectures and discussions will explore questions of gender, genre and the socio-historical evolution of the female subject within the Russian literary canon. Accompanied by film screenings. Ms. Safariants.

Open only to freshmen. Satisfies requirement for a Freshmen Writing Seminar.

Topic for 2013/14b: Nabokov Before "Lolita": The Making of a Genius in the Era of Jazz and Surrealism. This course considers the novels and novellas of Vladimir Nabokov written during the 1920s and 1930s in a broad cultural context of the period. Nabokov became an international celebrity with the publication of Lolita (1955). The scandal and sensationalism aside, the book earned him the reputation as one of the most accomplished stylists in the English language. But in the decades before producing Lolita, Nabokov had had a brilliant literary career as a Russian émigré writer in Europe. This course approaches Nabokov's pre-Lolita works through a comparison with the writings of Franz Kafka, Evelyn Waugh, Nathaniel West, and the art of Surrealism. The goal of the course is to explore the cultural atmosphere that helped shape Nabokov as we know him. Mr. Firtich.

All readings and discussion are in English.

Two 75-minute periods.

179. Incantations, Spells, Charms (1)

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’ lives, 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.

Open to all classes.

All lectures and readings in English.

Not offered in 2013/14.

II. Intermediate

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. Ms. Safariants.

Year-long course, 210-211.

Prerequisite: Russian 105-106 or permission of the instructor.

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

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.

Year-long course, 210-211.

Prerequisite: Russian 105-106 or permission of the instructor.

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

231. Russian Screen and Stage (1)

Aspects of Russian film, drama and performing arts.

By permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2012/13.

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. Mr. Ungurianu.

By permission of the 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. Mr. Firtich.

By permission of the instructor.

267. Culture and Ideology (1)

Offered in alternate years.

Not offered in 2013/14.

269. The Great Utopia: Ideals and Realities of the Russian Revolution (1)

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 169, but are required to do part of the work in Russian. By permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods, plus occasional film screenings.

Not offered in 2013/14.

273a. Focus on Literature (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 173, but are required to do part of the work in Russian.

Topic for 2013/14b: Nabokov Before “Lolita”: The Making of a Genius in the Era of Jazz and Surrealism. This course considers the novels and novellas of Vladimir Nabokov written during the 1920s and 1930s in a broad cultural context of the period. Nabokov became an international celebrity with the publication of Lolita (1955). The scandal and sensationalism aside, the book earned him the reputation as one of the most accomplished stylists in the English language. But in the decades before producing Lolita, Nabokov had had a brilliant literary career as a Russian émigré writer in Europe. This course approaches Nabokov's pre-Lolita works through a comparison with the writings of Franz Kafka, Evelyn Waugh, Nathaniel West, and the art of Surrealism. The goal of the course is to explore the cultural atmosphere that helped shape Nabokov as we know him. Mr. Firtich.

All readings and discussion in English.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

276. Diasporas (1)

(Same as Jewish Studies 276) As far back as antiquity, Jews have formed alliances, and sometimes rivalries, amongst themselves that have crossed boundaries of hegemonic powers: long-distance legal consultations and commercial relations, shared reading lists and life practices, and mass population movements through exile and immigration. This course maps correspondences, both literal and figurative, between Jews otherwise separated by political geography, and so enables a critical examination of the commonalities and differences that constitute the alternative understandings of Jewish "peoplehood" and Jewish "community."

Not offered in 2013/14.

279. Incantations, Spells, Charms (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 179, but are required to do part of the work in Russian.

By permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2013/14.

290. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

298. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

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

III. Advanced

300. Senior Thesis (1)

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. Mr. Ungurianu.

Yearlong course 331/332.

Two 75-minute periods, plus one hour of conversational practice.

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. Mr. Ungurianu.

Yearlong course 331/332.

Two 75-minute periods, plus one hour of conversational practice.

371a. Seminar on Russian Culture (1)

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

Topic for 2013/14a: 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 a sample of 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.

One 3-hour period.

373b. Seminar on Russian Literature (1)

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

Topic for 2013/14b: Russian Literature of the Absurd. A survey of the absurdist current in Russian nineteenth and twentieth century literature, taking into account the relationship of this tradition to the religious and philosophical concepts of the time. The course involves a close reading of texts by Nikolai Gogol, the first Russian absurdist par excellence, Kozma Prutkov, a fictitious author of mind-bending aphorisms, and Vladimir Soloviev, Russia's premier philosopher who contributed a number of notable items to the corpus of absurdist works. In the early twentieth century the absurdist mode became a prominent aspect of the Russian avant-garde, particularly in the works of such writers as Aleksei Kruchenykh and Velemir Khlebnikov, followed in the 1920s by Daniil Kharms and Aleksandr Vvedensky. Mr. Firtich.

Conducted in Russian.

Prerequisite: Russian 331 or permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period.

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

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