Russian Studies Department

Programs

Major

Correlate Sequence in Russian Studies

Courses

Russian Studies: I. Introductory

105a. Elementary Russian (1)

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

Open to all classes.

Yearlong course 105-RUSS 106.

Four 50-minute periods plus drill and conversation periods.

106b. Elementary Russian (1)

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

Open to all classes.

Yearlong course RUSS 105-106.

Four 50-minute periods plus drill and conversation periods.

107b. Intensive Introductory Russian (2)

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

Open to all classes.

Five 75-minute periods, plus drill and conversation periods.

131b. 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 RUSS 231   .

Two 75-minute periods.

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. Mr. Arndt III.

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

Two 75-minute periods.

141a. 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.

142a. 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.

All readings and discussion are in English.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

143a. Chekhov's Short Stories and Plays (in English) (1)

Close reading of major plays and selected  short stories by Anton Chekhov. Focus on the forms and themes of Chekhov's works, as well as their historical contexts in terms of dramaturgy, reception and artistic legacy. Special attention is given to the spectrum of interpretations of Chekhov's works in a transnational context. Accompanied by film screenings. Ms. Safariants.

Open to all classes. Readings and discussions are in English. Russian majors and Drama majors see RUSS 243.

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 RUSS 252.

Two 75-minute periods.

153b. Russian Sci-Fi Cinema (in English) (0.5)

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. Mr. Ungurianu.

Taught in English.

Second six-week course.

Two 75-minute periods, plus weekly screenings.

154b. The Cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky (in English) (0.5)

The haunting impression produced by Tarkosvky's films is aptly summarized by Ingmar Bergman: "My discovery of Tarkovsky's first film was like a miracle. Suddenly, I found myself standing at the door of a room the keys of which had, until then, never been given to me. Tarkovsky is for me the greatest, the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream." The course examines the work of the Russian director against the background of various "new waves" in European filmmaking, concentrating on Tarkovsky's unique blend of poetic and philosophical cinema that, following the great Russian literary tradition, can be described as metaphysical realism. Mr. Ungurianu.

Taught in English.

Second six-week course.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods, plus weekly screenings.

155b. WW II in Russian Cinema (in English) (0.5)

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). Mr. Ungurianu.

Taught in English.

Second six-week course.

Two 75-minute periods, plus weekly screenings.

156b. The Cinema of Sergei Eisenstein (in English) (0.5)

Sergei Eisenstein, a brilliant pioneer and a seminal theorist of cinema as a form of art, remains one of the most famous directors in the history of film. The course examines Eisenstein's artistic trajectory from his early avant-garde creations of the 1920s (The Strike andBattleship Potemkin) to the late masterpieces produced during the period of high Stalinism (Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible). Special attention is paid to the cultural and historical contexts of Eisenstein's films. Mr. Ungurianu.

Taught in English.

Second six-week course.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods, plus weekly screenings.

164b. Eurasia: Ethnic Cinema of the Soviet Union and Russia (1)

Russia in its various historical incarnations has been a tremendously diverse multi-ethnic country and a quintessential Eurasian entity as it spans both the European and Asian parts of the continent. The courseexplores the rich tradition of Soviet and Russian "ethnic cinema," i.e. films that center on important aspects of national identity, culture and history of particular ethnic groups, many of which became independent nations after the dissolution of the USSR.  Films in question include a variety of genres from major blockbusters to experimental productions and from historical epics to comedies. We also consider some literary texts and relevant historiosophic theories, most notably Eurasianism that emerged in the wake of the Russian revolution and continues to be a productive ideology in the post-Soviet context. Mr. Ungurianu.

Readings and discussions are in English. Open to all classes. Russian majors and International Studies majors see RUSS 264/INTL 264   .

Two 75-minute periods.

165b. Arts and Music in Imperial Russia (in English) (1)

Our main focus is on the dazzling artistic explosion that took place in the Russian Empire in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This includes the visual arts, architecture, music, and performing arts. In the introductory part we go over the highlights of Old Russian art, primarily icon painting and ecclesiastic architecture, and proceed to the imperial period paying special attention to the interaction and interpenetration of the arts in a historical context. Prominent examples include the following. Borodin's opera Prince Igor is viewed against its literary source, a medieval epic, and linked to historiosophic debates about Russia and the East and also to orientalism in Russian and European imagination. In conjunction with Musorgsky's opera Boris Godunov we read the eponymous drama by Pushkin, and discuss its historical background and related archetypal images projected on Russian history. Diaghilev's legendary Ballets Russes are presented in the epoch's drive for artistic syncretism and also a peculiar mix of Russian and cosmopolitan elements characteristic of the World of Art movement. We conclude with the radical revolutionary aesthetics of the Russian Avant-Garde that upends accepted notions of art in such spectacles as the notorious Futurist opera Victory over the Sun. Mr. Ungurianu.

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

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods, plus occasional film screenings.

167b. Hipsters, Rebels and Rock Stars in Russian Literature and Culture (in English) (1)

The image of the dandy, the fop and the rebel has steadily resurfaced in Russian art and literature during periods of major political and cultural change. As early as the nineteenth century youth countercultures began to permeate and shape new currents of thought and artistic expression. This course examines the historical development of hipness in the literature, cinema, visual art and music of Russia from Golden Age Romanticism to the present day. It aims to frame the many iterations of the Russian hipster within a historical and artistic context. Special attention is given to the investigation of artistic mediums as vehicles in propagating the image of the hipster in the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and contemporary Russia. Ms. Safariants.

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

Two 75-minute periods.

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

169a. 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.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods, plus occasional film screenings.

171a. 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. Ms. Safariants.

Satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods.

172a. Beyond the Looking Glass: Nonsense and Absurd in Russian and European Literature and Visual Arts (in English) (1)

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.

Russian majors see RUSS 272.

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. Russian majors see RUSS 273.

Topic for 2014/15b: Russian Women Writers. 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.

All readings and discussion are in English.

Two 75-minute periods.

179b. 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.

188b. The Russian Avant-Garde (in English) (1)

The course follows the trajectory of Russia's artistic avant-garde from its origins in the first decade of the 20th Century to its most advanced stages. We investigate various areas revolutionized by the Russian avant-garde, including visual arts, literature, theatre, and cinema. Such movements as Futurism, Alogism, Suprematism and Constructivism receive special attention along with case studies of the most distinguished avant-garde artists (Vassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Marc Chagall, Velimir Khlebnikov, Sergei Eisenstein and others). We explore the significance of the Russian avant-garde in a wider context of European and American modern art, literature, and theory. Mr. Firtich.

Open to all classes. Readings and discussions are in English. Russian majors and Art History majors see RUSS 288.

Two 75-minute periods.

Russian Studies: 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.

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

Year long course 210-RUSS 211.

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. Ms. Safariants.

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

Year long course RUSS 210-211.

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

231b. Russian Screen and Stage (1)

Aspects of Russian film, drama and performing arts.

By permission of the instructor.

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 RUSS 135, but are required to do part of the work in Russian. Mr. Arndt III.

By permission of the instructor.

243a. Chekhov's Short Stories/Plays (1)

Same as RUSS 143 with two additonal tracks:

a) Individually designed for Russian majors and other students with sufficient knowledge of Russian. Students in this course attend the same lectures and discussions as those in RUSS 143, but are required to do part of the work in Russian.

b) Drama majors attend same lectures and discussions as those in RUSS 143, but are required to submit a more extensive final project related to their field.

Two 75-minute periods.

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 RUSS 152, but are required to do part of the work in Russian. Mr. Firtich.

By permission of the instructor.

264a or b. Eurasia: Ethnic Cinema of the Soviet Union and Russia (1)

Same as RUSS 164 with one additional track:

Individually designed for Russian majors and other students with sufficient knowledge of Russian. Students in this course attend the same lectures and discussions as those in RUSS 164, but are required to do part of the work in Russian.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods plus extra periods.

266a or b. St.Petersburg in Russ Hist/Cul (1)

This team-taught course explores three interrelated dimensions of St. Petersburg: the city's political and social history that in many ways shaped the vast empire of the Romanovs; its architecture with a combination of West European and Russian elements that produced a unique urban environment at the delta of the Neva; the city's dual role as both the birthplace of modern Russian literature and as its major subject involved in the intricate mythology of numerous St. Petersburgian texts.

Vassar Program in St. Petersburg.

Three hours per week, plus excursions.

267a or b. Culture and Ideology (1)

Offered in alternate years.

269a or b. 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 RUSS 169, but are required to do part of the work in Russian. By permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods, plus occasional film screenings.

272a or b. Beyond the Looking Glass: Nonsense and Absurd in Russian and European Literature and Visual Arts (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 RUSS 172, but are required to do part of the work in Russian. Mr. Firtich.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods plus extra periods.

273b. 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 RUSS 173, but are required to do part of the work in Russian. 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 2014/15b: Russian Women Writers. 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.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

All readings and discussion are in English.

Two 75-minute periods, plus extra periods.

276b. Diasporas (1)

(Same as JWST 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 2015/16.

279b. 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 RUSS 179, but are required to do part of the work in Russian.

By permission of the instructor.

288b. The Russian Avant-Garde (1)

Individually designed for Russian majors and other students with sufficient knowledge of Russian. Students in this course attend the same lectures and discussions as those in RUSS 188, but are required to do part of the work in Russian.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods plus extra periods.

290b. Field Work (0.5to1)

291b. Facets of Russian Culture (1)

A multidisciplinary course with a strong fieldwork component that reflects on various aspects of Russian culture experienced first-hand by our students during their stay in Russia. Topics include theatrical and music venues, the modern art scene, concepts of museum space and the politics of memory, culinary culture and dynamics of ethnic diversity, contemporary youth culture, and others.

Vassar Program in St. Petersburg.

298b. Independent Work (0.5to1)

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

Russian Studies: III. Advanced

300b. Senior Thesis (1)

303a or b. Senior Project (1)

A 1-unit project done in one semester. The department.

Open only to majors and correlates.

 

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

323a or b. Chekhov's Short Stories and Plays (1)

(Same as DRAM 323) Close reading of major plays and selected short stories by Anton Chekhov in a seminar format. Focus on the forms and themes of Chekhov's works, as well as their historical contexts in terms of dramaturgy, reception and artistic legacy. Special attention is given to the spectrum of interpretations of Chekhov's works in a transnational context. Accompanied by film screenings. Class discussions are in English but Russian Studies students are required to read part of the texts in the original. Ms. Safariants.

Prerequisites: RUSS 210 or above, or permission of the instructor.

Drama majors see DRAM 323.

One 3-hour period.

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/RUSS 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 RUSS 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 2015/16a: 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.

Prerequisite: RUSS 331 or equivalent.

Advanced seminar conducted in Russian. 

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 2015/16b: 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.

Prerequisite: RUSS 331 or permission of the instructor.

Advanced seminar conducted in Russian. 

One 3-hour period.

399b. Senior Independent Work (0.5to1)

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