Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid


Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses



Professor Ciepiela (Chair), Associate Professors Kunichika and Wolfson*, Visiting Associate Professor Barskova, Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

Major Program. The major program in Russian is an individualized interdisciplinary course of study. It includes general requirements for all majors and a concentration of courses in one discipline: literature, film, cultural studies, history, or politics. Eight courses are required for the major, including RUSS 301 and one course beyond RUSS 301 taught in Russian. Language courses numbered 202 and above will count for the major. Normally, two courses taken during a semester abroad in Russia may be counted; 303H and 304H together will count as one course. Additionally, all majors must elect at least one course that addresses history or literature before 1850. Other courses will be chosen in consultation with the advisor from courses in Russian literature, film, culture, history and politics. Students are strongly encouraged to enroll in non-departmental courses in their chosen discipline.

Comprehensives. The College-wide comprehensives requirement is satisfied by completing two projects. The Concentration Essay is required of all majors. Students entering the College in Fall 2018 and later are required to complete a Capstone Project, as described below; students who entered the College before that semester can elect, by the end of the add/drop period in the penultimate semester of study, to pursue a (year-long) Capstone Project or to take the Translation Exam (during that semester).

Concentration Essay and Senior Conversation. By the last day of add-drop period classes in their final semester of study, all students majoring in Russian will complete a draft of an essay, around a thousand words in length, in which they describe the trajectory and primary focus of their studies in the major. Throughout this process, majors will have the help of their advisors. The final draft of the essay, due approximately four weeks later, will be the subject of the Senior Conversation between the student and a committee of departmental readers.

Capstone Project. The Russian major program aspires to prepare students for independent analysis of authentic Russian materials. The College has exceptional resources for such study: the rare book and archive collections of the Amherst Center for Russian Culture and the Russian art collection at the Mead, most of them donated by Thomas Whitney ’37. During their final two semesters in the program, Russian majors will complete a Capstone Project that involves selecting and studying an artifact from one of the collections: a work of verbal or visual art or a document of significance to Russian cultural history. Throughout the process they will be supported by their major advisors, the staff of the Center, and/or the Mead Museum’s Curator of Russian and European Art. During the penultimate semester of study, students will research and establish the contexts that they judge most crucial for understanding the chosen work’s significance. The goal is to prepare a fifteen-minute-long presentation to be shared with the department’s faculty and students at the Russian Department Capstone Symposium, to take place about half way through the final semester of study. Students will confirm selection of the artifact with their advisors by the middle of the penultimate semester of study. By the last day of classes in that semester they will submit to their advisors: (1) a draft of their presentation; (2) an English translation, from the original Russian, of an excerpt from the chosen material (for printed or handwritten documents) or from a Russian-language source consulted in the course of doing research on an object or work of visual art. The final version of the presentation draft and the translation, which respond to comments and notes from faculty, will be due by the first day of classes in the final semester of study.

Departmental Honors Program. In lieu of the Capstone requirement, the Honors candidate will enroll RUSS 498-499 during the final two semesters of study and prepare a thesis on a topic approved by the Department. They will present an overview of their thesis work at the Department Capstone Symposium along with majors pursuing capstone projects. Students who anticipate writing an Honors essay on a topic that focuses on Russia's social history should consult with Professor Glebov (History) or may request to work under his direction. All Honors candidates should ensure that their College program provides a sufficiently strong background in their chosen discipline.

Study Abroad. Majors are strongly encouraged to spend a semester or summer studying in Russia. Students potentially interested in study abroad should begin planning as early as possible in their Amherst career. They should consult members of the Department faculty and Janna Behrens, Director of Global Education, for information on approved programs and scholarship support. Other programs can be approved on a trial basis by petition to the Director of Global Education. Study in Russia is most rewarding after students have completed the equivalent of four or five semesters of college-level Russian, but some programs will accept students with less. One semester of study in Russia will ordinarily give Amherst College credit for four courses, two of which may be counted towards the major in Russian.

Summer language programs, internships, ecological and volunteer programs may be good alternatives for students whose other Amherst commitments make a semester away difficult or impossible. (Please note that Amherst College does not give credit for summer programs.) U.S.-based summer intensive programs can be used to accelerate acquisition of the language, and some of these programs provide scholarship support. Consult the department bulletin board in Webster and the department website for information on a wide variety of programs.

* On leave 2020-21

111 Understanding Russia

This introduction to Russian culture and history examines Russia’s vast and varied contributions to world culture, from literature and the arts to intellectual and political history. Setting aside cultural commonplaces about Russia—from borscht to nesting dolls and vodka—and various clichés of Russia as some enigmatic, reason-defying civilization, this course considers Russia’s ongoing development as it responds to the world and fashions its own forms of art, culture, and thought. The course will survey Russian culture and history from the early eighteenth century to the present, a broad span of time in which we see periods of upheaval and change to which its writers, artists, and intellectuals gave artistic and intellectual expression. We will be guided throughout the course by such questions as: How has Russia imagined its place in the world and in world culture? How has it responded to developments from abroad in fashioning its own culture? What is distinctive about Russia’s literary, visual, and performing styles? What can Russian cultural history tell us about the ways people experience, negotiate, and navigate multiple identities in a single polity stretching from Germany to Alaska? 

This course will draw upon the rich holdings of the Amherst Center for Russian Culture and the Mead Art Museum, which, together, form a premier teaching and research collection of Russia’s culture history in the West. Each module of the course will, for example, focus upon an archival, verbal, or visual artifact held in these collections, using it as a springboard to consider broader themes of Russian culture and history. 

Spring Semester. Professors Kunichika and Glebov.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2023, Spring 2025

122 Love and Death: the Big Questions of Russian Literature

Who is to blame? What is to be done? How can we love, and how should we die? In an age when such larger-than-life questions animated urgent debates about self and society, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anton Chekhov and other writers whose famous shorter works we’ll read in this course reinvented the idea of literature itself. Political terrorism and non-violent resistance, women’s rights and imperial expansion, quests for social justice and personal happiness: as nineteenth-century Russian authors explored the cultural anxieties provoked by these challenges of modernity, their ambition was not to mirror experience but to transform it by interpreting its deepest secrets. This is an introduction to the daring, contradictory visions of life and art that forever changed how we do things with words. No familiarity with Russian history or culture expected. All readings in English.

Omitted 2020-21. Professor Wolfson. 

Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2025

123 Century of Catastrophe: Soviet and Contemporary Russia in Writing and Film

Russia was launched on a unique path by the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917: It was intended to become the first Communist society in history. The cultural revolution that followed sought to transform all social arrangements and institutions, even human beings themselves. This utopian project came up against twentieth-century realities not just in Russia but internationally (World Wars I and II, and the Cold War competition between capitalism and socialism). Much of the best Russian literature and film of the twentieth century addresses the social traumas of the era. We will study landmark works of poetry, film, fiction and documentation which address particular moments of catastrophic change – the Revolution, the “internationalizing” of non-Russian peoples, collectivization and famine, Stalin’s purges, World War II and the siege of Leningrad, ecological disaster, and the collapse of the Soviet empire and transformation of Russia into a “capitalist” society. All readings and discussion in English. No familiarity with Russian history and culture is assumed.

Omitted 2020-21. Professor Ciepiela.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2013, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020

130 Russian Empire in Eurasia

(See HIST 112)

201 Second-Year Russian I

This course stresses vocabulary building and continued development of speaking and listening skills. Active command of Russian grammar is steadily increased. Readings from authentic materials in fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Brief composition assignments. Five meetings per week, including a conversation hour and a drill session.

Requisite: RUSS 102 or the equivalent. This will ordinarily be the appropriate course placement for students with two to three years of high school Russian. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Professor Ciepiela.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

215 Modernism and Revolution

We will examine the revolutionary upheavals of early twentieth-century Russia through the lens of three modernist texts: Andrei Bely’s experimental novel Petersburg (the failed revolution of 1905), Isaac Babel’s story cycle Red Cavalry (the civil war that followed the Bolshevik takeover in 1917) and Mikhail Bulgakov’s phantasmagorical masterpiece The Master and Margarita (the “cultural revolution” of 1929-32 and the rise of Stalinist society). Reshaped by the crises that they confronted in their works, these Russian writers reached beyond literature – to the images, sounds and ideas of their Russian and European contemporaries – to reimagine the place of artistic innovation and esthetic tradition in times of trouble, and so revolutionized the very idea of what literature can do in negotiating the relationship between text and experience. All readings and discussions in English. No familiarity with Russian history or culture is assumed.

Omitted 2020-21. Professor Wolfson. 

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Spring 2020

216 Creativity and Revolution: The Arts in Russia

At the turn of the twentieth century, Russia staged a revolution in the arts.  In an atmosphere of social crisis, artists worked to shatter the wall between art and life – so that art might become more vital and relevant, and life might become more beautiful. They embraced the task of social transformation, believing in the power of the imagination to expand human freedom. How differently might nature, the city, and human beings themselves look? How can we access other dimensions of existence? How can we enhance our power to perceive and experience the world?  This course introduces students to the Russian creative experiments that helped influence how we think about the arts today. In line with the artists’ own multimedia practice, we will think about writing, painting, music, and performance as elements of a single arts culture. At the center of the course are two plays (by Alexander Blok and Vladimir Mayakovsky), a famous ballet (“Rite of Spring” by the Ballets Russes) and the world’s first futurist opera (“Victory Over the Sun”). All texts will be studied in English translation.

The artists’ faith in creative freedom meant they followed their own paths, and the amazing variety of their work is part of the story.  We will experience that variety first-hand by working with objects from the Whitney Russian Collections.  Thomas Whitney ’37 gave to Amherst his collection of Russian books, housed in the Amherst Center for Russian Culture (Webster Hall); we will work with fine art journals from the period and very rare handmade books by the Russian futurists. Whitney’s Russian art collection, held at the Mead Museum, features major artists of many schools. Your work in the course will involve researching an object from the collections and making a presentation on it, either in the mode of scholarship or performance. The course requires no prior knowledge of Russian culture or the arts and is appropriate for first-year students.

Omitted 2020-21. Professor Ciepiela.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017

225 Nabokov's Art and Terrors

(Offered as RUSS 225 and ENGL 315) This course undertakes a sustained examination of the works of Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977). Drawing on the literary masterpieces of Nabokov’s Russian and English periods, we seek to gain a critical appreciation of his literary art and the cultural and aesthetic contexts from which they emerged. Throughout the course, we will consider his abiding themes such as the complex relationship between art and life, and between the poet, the state, and society; the narration of the experience of time; metafiction, its possibilities and constraints; bad art; the experience of exile; and the privileged position of art and aesthetics. The latter are variously inflected as refuge, asylum, or a space of revolt, as well as what enables the artist to counter, but also to inflict, cruelty. The course will also situate Nabokov’s work with the currents of literary modernism; to that end, readings are also drawn from such figures as Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka, Marcel Proust, and Virginia Woolf. Our access into these themes and the author’s narrative art will be through attentive reading, itself a preeminent theme of Nabokov’s work. No familiarity with Russian history or culture expected. All readings in English.

In 2020-21, this course will be taught online. Course materials, including readings, will be provided in advance, and all student work can be submitted electronically. Please contact the instructor for any questions regarding the course format.

Fall Semester. Visiting Associate Professor Barskova.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, January 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Fall 2023

226 The Agony of Comedy: Nikolai Gogol and His Interlocutors

Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852) was perhaps the most mysterious and influential Russian writer of the nineteenth century… and beyond. In this course, we will travel through his fictional universe—the world of menacing mermaids, flying dumplings, and meteorological cataclysms. On our way, we will examine issues of Romantic authorship and nationalism, the challenges of writing outside one’s homeland and language, and the relationship of sexuality and creativity. Gogol’s literary inventions allow us to trace the intersections of many distinctive artistic imaginations: the legacy of Alexander Pushkin and E.T.A. Hoffmann, whose influence shaped Gogol’s esthetic sensibility, and the experiments of Fedor Dostoevsky, Dmitry Shostakovich, Daniil Kharms, Yuri Tynianov, and Vladimir Nabokov, for all of whom Gogol became an object of fascination, by turns enchanting and dangerous. Our readings will include a range of genres: fragments, novellas, a play, and a narrative-poem-in-prose. We will pay special attention to the afterlives of Gogol's works in music, the visual arts, and the cinema. 

In 2020-21, this course will be taught online. Course materials, including readings, will be provided in advance, and all student work can be submitted electronically. Please contact the instructor for any questions regarding the course format.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

227 Fyodor Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novels remain relevant to readers across the globe for their daring critique of modernity. A journalist himself, he took his material from the newspapers – stories of crime, corruption, poverty, addiction, terrorism, politics – and mined it for existential meaning. He also drew on his own difficult experience as a political prisoner who spent a decade in Siberia, an eternal debtor, and an incurable epileptic. In this course we will study Dostoevsky’s fiction and journalistic writings, alongside reactions to his work from international thinkers (Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche), writers (D.H. Lawrence, Richard Wright, David Foster Wallace) and filmmakers (Alexander Sokurov, Robert Bresson). We will begin with several early works (“Notes from Underground,” “The Double,” House of the Dead) whose concerns persist and develop in the novels that are the focus of the course: Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. All readings and discussion in English.

Omitted 20-21. Professor Ciepiela. 

Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2019, Fall 2023, Spring 2025

229 Chekhov and His Theater

Anton Chekhov’s reputation rests as much on his writing for the theater as on his fiction. His plays, whose staging by the Moscow Art Theater helped revolutionize Russian and world theater, endure in the modern repertoire. In this course, we will study his four major plays in their cultural and historical context, drawing on the biographical and critical literature on Chekhov, printed and visual materials concerning the late nineteenth-century European theater, and the writings of figures like Constantine Stanislavsky, who developed a new acting method in response to Chekhov’s art. We also will examine key moments in the production history of Chekhov’s plays in Russian, English, and American theater and film. No knowledge of Russian language or culture is assumed.

January Term. Professor Ciepiela.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2014, January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2022

234 The Soviet Experience

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the great utopian experiment of the twentieth century–a radical attempt to reorganize society in accordance with rational principles–came to an end. This course explores the dramatic history of that experiment from the perspective of those whose lives were deeply affected by the social upheavals it brought about. We begin by examining early visions of the new social order and attempts to restructure the living practices of Soviet citizens by reshaping the concepts of time, space, family, and, ultimately, by redefining the meaning of being human. We then look at how “the new human being” of the 1920s is transformed into the “new Soviet person” of the Stalinist society, focusing on the central cultural and ideological myths of Stalinism and their place in everyday life, especially as these myths relate to the experience of state terror and war. Finally, we investigate the notion of “life after Stalin,” and consider the role of already-familiar utopian motifs in the development of post-Stalinist and post-Soviet ways of imagining self, culture, and society. The course uses a variety of materials–from primary documents, public or official (architectural and theatrical designs, political propaganda, transcripts of trials, government meetings, and interrogations) and intimate (diaries and letters), to works of art (novels, films, stage productions, paintings), documentary accounts (on film and in print), and contemporary scholarship. No previous knowledge of Soviet or Russian history or culture is required; the course is conducted in English, and all readings are in translation.

Professor Wolfson. Omitted 2020-21.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2018

235 Stalin and Stalinism

(See HIST 235)

237 Soviet Union During the Cold War

(See HIST 236)

240 The Last Russian Revolution: State and Society from the Late Soviet Period to the Present

(See HIST 240)

242 Revolutions in Theater

Each bold innovation in twentieth-century theater sought to redefine in its own way the very idea of theatricality, and so to reshape the relationship between text and performance, experience and interpretation, social reality and cultural tradition. The conviction that a director can, as Peter Brook put it, “take any empty space and call it a bare stage” led the great reformers whose theoretical writings and theatrical practices are examined in this course to conflicting visions of theater’s role in the esthetic, cultural and social revolutions of their times. We explore the experimental esthetics of Konstantin Stanislavsky, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Bertolt Brecht, Antonin Artaud, Jerzy Grotowski, Tadeusz Kantor, Heiner Müller, and Robert Wilson—and each director’s radical reinventions of theater as naturalistic, realistic, symbolist, constructivist, expressionist, epic, cruel, poor, deathlike, painterly, and holy.

Omitted 2020-21. Professor Wolfson.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017

245 Sergei Eisenstein's Cinema and Thought

(Offered as RUSS 245 and FAMS 357) This course focuses on Sergei Eisenstein (1898–1948), whose seminal works in the history and theory of cinema are the subject of our sustained examination. As Eisenstein postulated in 1939, “the method of cinema, when fully comprehended, will enable us to reveal an understanding of the method of art in general.” In our effort to comprehend his work and enduring relevance, we will consider Eisenstein’s stylistics through attentive viewing of his key films: Strike, Battleship Potemkin, October, Old and New, the never completed ¡Que Viva México!, Alexander Nevsky, and Ivan the Terrible. Along with examining their formal features and rich historical and ideological contexts, we will also consider Eisenstein’s theoretical texts on cinema and culture, attending in particular to his theories of montage, method, and his writings on the histories of literature and art. The course aims to situate his work within the broad aesthetic, philosophical, and political currents of his time, which he reflected upon in his work, and to which he, a quintessential modernist, made his distinctive and influential contributions. No familiarity with Russian history or culture expected. All readings in English.

Omitted 2020-21. Professor Kunichika. 

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2016, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

251 1917–2017: One Hundred Years in the Story of Labor

In this course, we consider the century that lay between the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the present day by focusing on labor. We reconstruct how labor and work have been represented in primarily Russian and Soviet literature and film, while drawing comparisons from American and European cultural sources. We will consider the Revolution as a historical phenomenon, examining central texts in which its ambitions and significance were contested. We then consider chapters in the on-going career of labor from the 1920s to the present-day. We examine the seminal statements of Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky; the groundbreaking films of Dziga Vertov and Sergei Eisenstein; and the enduring literary works of Andrei Platonov and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, among others. Alongside the Russian texts, we will read or screen works by John Steinbeck, Charlie Chaplin, Fritz Lang, and Eugene O’Neill. Throughout, we will be guided by several questions and concerns: how does an artistic work represent labor and conceive its value? What is the nature of work? How is intellectual labor understood in relation to others forms of labor? How are bodies configured by different labor processes? And, lastly, what might this history tell us about the present state and challenge of labor and social inequity at the centennial of the Revolution? All readings in English.

Omitted 2020-21. Professor Kunichika.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017

252 Russia and the Representation of Race

(Offered as RUSS 252, BLST 392 [D] and FAMS 352) This course focuses on the modes by which race has been represented in Russian and Soviet culture. We approach this topic in two ways: first, we examine how Russian and Soviet culture grappled with questions of race, focusing on episodes in the representation of minority peoples throughout the empire and the Soviet Union; secondly, we consider how Russian and Soviet culture served as a mirror in which minorities from other countries saw their experiences partially reflected or as a source from which they found models to articulate their own experience of race. These two concerns guide us through the course as we study such works as Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground as it enters into dialogue with Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man and Leonid Tsypkin’s Summer in Baden Baden; the representation of Central Asia by such figures as Langston Hughes and Andrei Platonov; the appeal of the Soviet Union to Western intellectuals, in particular African-American thinkers and writers, from W.E.B. Du Bois, Hughes, and Claude McKay; Alexander Pushkin and the question of his “blackness” and universality; the cinematic representation of minorities in the films of Dziga Vertov and Vsevolod Pudovkin. We will draw our critical theoretical models from Homi Bhabha, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Patricia Hall Collins, Johannes Fabian, Stuart Hall, and Mary Louise Pratt, among others.

Professor Kunichika. Omitted 2020-21.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2024

255 Imposture: Con-men, Swindlers, and Other Pretenders

This course investigates various figures of imposture. Beginning with Nikolai Gogol’s classic figure of Chichikov from Dead Souls and his genre-bending reversal of the theme in The Inspector General, the course will examine how authors have used confidence games and imposture to reveal particular ploys and gambits in literature. The course will also consider the ways that con-men, swindlers, and pretenders reflect and manipulate the cultural, political, and social dilemmas of their respective periods. While we will focus particularly on the case of Russia—and the distinct place the arts of confidence have had there – we will also consider forms of imposture beyond just a hustle for money and beyond the case of Russia. We will examine imposture in terms of race (as in Nella Larsen's Passing), in the realm of politics (as in Alexander Pushkin's “Boris Godunov”), in relation to the Holocaust (as in Stefan Maechler’s definitive report on the memoirist Benjamin Wilkomirskij), and in such expansive novelistic treatments of this theme by Herman Melville and Thomas Mann. All readings in English. No previous knowledge of Russian culture or history expected.

Professor Kunichika. Omitted 2020-21

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

256 The West under Russian Eyes

What can we learn about Russian culture and what can we learn about the West from the images created by modern Russian thinkers and writers? Beginning with the reforms of Peter the Great through the collapse of the Soviet Union, this course will scrutinize the images and ideas that Russian writers and artists crafted about Western thought, culture, and life. We will consider such debates as the beneficence and dangers of Westernization and modernization, the critique of liberalism and liberal individualism, the crisis of humanism, the attempt to fashion alternatives to both socialism and capitalism, and race relations in Europe and America. The course will draw upon both seminal statements and works from Russian intellectual and literary history, alongside works from journalism, travel literature, and cinema. In reading these works, our aim is to understand how these writers, thinkers, and artists in Russia, and then in the Soviet Union, constructed complex images of the West, and often sought to create forms of life and art that would serve as alternatives to the West and Western modernity. Works will be drawn from such figures as Joseph Brodsky, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Nikolai Gogol, Alexander Herzen, Aleksandra Kollontai, Eduard Limonov, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Pavel Muratov, Vladimir Nabokov, Andrey Tarkovsky, and Nadezhda Teffi.

Omitted 2020-21. Professor Kunichika.

2023-24: Not offered

301 Third-Year Russian: Studies in Russian Language and Culture I

This course advances skills in reading, understanding, writing, and speaking Russian, with materials from twentieth-century culture. Readings include fiction by Chekhov, Babel, Olesha, Nabokov, and others. Conducted in Russian, with frequent writing and grammar assignments, in-class presentations, and occasional translation exercises. Two seminar-style meetings and one hour-long discussion section per week.

Requisite: RUSS 202 or consent of the instructor. First-year students with strong high school preparation (usually 4 or more years) may be ready for this course. Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Professor Kunichika and Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

302 Third-Year Russian: Studies in Russian Language and Culture II

We will be reading, in the original Russian, works of fiction, poetry and criticism by nineteenth-century authors such as Pushkin, Tolstoy, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Turgenev and Chekhov. Conducted in Russian, with frequent writing and translation assignments.

Requisite: RUSS 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023, Spring 2025

304H Advanced Intermediate Conversation and Composition

A half course designed for intermediate-level students who wish to develop their fluency, pronunciation, oral comprehension, and writing skills. We will study and discuss Russian films of various genres. Two hours per week.

Requisite: RUSS 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2020-21. Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2025

310 Literature as Translation

(See EUST 303)

315 What is Language? Russian and Soviet Views in Comparative Context

(Offered as RUSS 315 and EUST 315) “We die. That may be the meaning of life,” writes Toni Morrison. “But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” Russian thinkers, writers, philosophers, and politicians have likewise sought to take measure of their lives and of culture by thinking about the nature of language, and its role in culture, society, and politics. In examining how Russian writers and thinkers have sought to answer the question what is language? — how they did and do language—we will consider a range of sources from intellectual history, linguistics, literary and critical theory, mythology, theology, and philosophy. We will examine the distinctive contributions of Russian thinking about language, while also seeking to situate Russian views on this question within a comparative context. To that end, we will also read intellectual sources that proved seminal for articulating an answer to this question (Vico, Herder, Rousseau, Saussure, and Benveniste, among others). As we consider this broad question, and how it has animated Russian thought and culture, we will also focus upon a range of other questions: What are the origins of language? How does language evolve? What is the relationship of language to national culture? What is the relationship of language to politics? Throughout the course, we will see how views on the nature of language served as an arena in which vying conceptions of culture, politics, and the human have all been contested. All readings in English. No previous knowledge of Russian culture or history expected.

Fall semester. Professor Kunichika.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

317 Strange Russian Writers: Gogol, Dostoevsky, Bulgakov, Nabokov, et al

A course that examines the stories and novels of rebels, deviants, dissidents, loners, and losers in some of the weirdest fictions in Russian literature. The writers, most of whom imagine themselves to be every bit as bizarre as their heroes, include from the nineteenth century: Gogol (“Viy,” “Diary of a Madman,” “Ivan Shponka and His Aunt,” “The Nose,” “The Overcoat”); Dostoevsky (“The Double,” “A Gentle Creature,” “Bobok,” “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man”); Tolstoy (“The Kreutzer Sonata,” “Father Sergius”), and from the twentieth century: Olesha (Envy); Platonov (The Foundation Pit); Kharms’ (Stories); Bulgakov (The Master and Margarita); Nabokov (The Eye, Despair); Erofeev (Moscow Circles); Pelevin (“The Yellow Arrow”). Our goal will be less to construct a canon of strangeness than to consider closely how estranged women, men, animals, and objects become the center of narrative attention and, in doing so, reflect the writer Tatyana Tolstaya’s claim that “Russia is broader and more diverse, stranger and more contradictory than any idea of it. It resists all theories about what makes it tick, confounds all the paths to its possible transformation.” All readings in English translation.

Though taught online, this course expects to engage students in rigorous and lively discussion, as we collectively explore the intricacies and challenges of the texts under consideration. Traditional office hours will be replaced by pre-arranged individual telephone conversations, where students can have the opportunity to discuss the three written assignments before submitting them.

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Emeritus Rabinowitz

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

327 The Brothers Karamazov: a Multidimensional Approach

The contemporary Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk claimed in 1999 that “the book of the millennium is Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. I know of no other book which dramatizes with such beautiful intensity, and on almost encyclopedic scale, the problems of living in this world, of being with other people, and dreaming of a next world.” Through a careful reading of Dostoevsky’s final work of fiction (1880) and universally regarded supreme artistic masterpiece, we shall investigate the applicability of Pamuk’s claim, availing ourselves of additional works that shed light on the novel’s socio-political, psychological, religious/spiritual, philosophical and aesthetic dimensions. Other texts to be considered include: 1) Dostoevsky’s early travelogue “Winter Notes on Summer Impressions” (1862); 2) excerpts from Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s utopian novel What is to be Done? (1863); 3) a medieval saint’s life, “The Life of St. Theodosius”; and 4) two critical studies by American Dostoevsky specialists James Rice (Dostoevsky and the Healing Art, 1985) and Liza Knapp (The Annihilation of Inertia: Dostoevsky and Metaphysics, 1996). Our semester-long examination of The Brothers Karamazov will conclude with a discussion of Jose Ortega y Gasset’s “Why Dostoevsky Lives in the Twentieth Century,” from his 1925 essay “Dostoevsky and Proust,” and Leonid Tsypkin’s short novel Summer in Baden Baden (1980), which will help us to articulate further the attractions, the challenges and the ambiguities we encounter when reading a writer as profound, and as controversial, as Dostoevsky.

Limited to 20 students; open to first-year students with instructor's permission.

Spring semester. Professor emeritus Rabinowitz.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

332 Russian Lives

This course approaches pre-revolutionary Russian cultural history by attending to how key social actors have been represented. We will study the lives of tsar and tsarina, saint, aristocrat, salon hostess, peasant, revolutionary and merchant as represented in letters, memoirs, fiction, verse, painting and performance. Examples of lifewriting will include seventeenth-century archpriest Avvakum’s “autobiography” (the first example of the genre in Russia), revolutionary Alexander Herzen’s My Life and Thoughts (alongside Tom Stoppard’s renovation of his story as a trilogy of plays, Coast of Utopia), the memoirs of women terrorists, and the testimonial of a nineteenth-century serf. Alongside these we will consider fictional representations such as Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time, Karolina Pavlova's A Double Life, and Tolstoy's "Master and Man." Knowledge of Russian history and culture is not assumed, and all course materials are in English. Students studying the Russian language will be provided with excerpts from the originals.

Omitted 2020-21. Professor Ciepiela.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

345 Living the Revolutionary Utopia: Reconfiguring the Russian Empire as the Soviet Union, 1917–1920s

(See HIST 445)

401 Advanced Studies in Russian Literature and Culture I

The topic changes every year. Taught entirely in Russian. Two class meetings per week.

Fall semester. Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

490 Special Topics

Independent Reading Course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

498, 499 Senior Departmental Honors

Open to, and required of, seniors writing a thesis.

Spring semester. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2025

Russian Language Courses

101 First-Year Russian I

Introduction to the contemporary Russian language, presenting the fundamentals of Russian grammar and syntax. The course helps the student make balanced progress in listening comprehension, speaking, reading, writing, and cultural competence. Five meetings per week.

Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

102 First-Year Russian II

Continuation of RUSS 101.

Requisite: RUSS 101 or equivalent. Limited to 12 students per section. Spring semester. Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2023, Spring 2025

202 Second-Year Russian II

Continuation of RUSS 201.

Requisite: RUSS 201 or equivalent. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Ciepiela.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2023, Spring 2025

Related Courses

- (Course not offered this year.)POSC-301 Terrorism and Revolution: A Case Study of Russia (Course not offered this year.)POSC-380 Kremlin Rising: Russia's Foreign Policy in the 21st Century (Course not offered this year.)