Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid

Back

Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses

Back

Russian

Professor Ciepiela(Chair, Fall 2023), Associate Professors Kunichika†(Chair, Spring 2024) and Wolfson†, Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev, Visiting Professor Luke Parker†, Visiting Lecturer Erica Drennan and Research Fellow Maria Mayofis.

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 2023-24 Fall.

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

103 Accelerated First-Year Russian

Accelerated introduction to the contemporary Russian language, presenting the fundamentals of Russian grammar and syntax. Equivalent to both semesters of First-Year Russian. The course helps the students make balanced progress in listening comprehension, speaking, reading, writing, and cultural competence. Three meetings per week. Omitted 2023-24. Professor Parker.

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? About class and gender politics?

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. Professor Ciepiela.

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.

Spring Semester. 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 2021-22. Professor Ciepiela.

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

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 Mayofis.

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 2021-22. Professor Wolfson. 

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

221 Russian Literature on Trial

Why are novels so interested in trials? What is the relationship between literary and legal analysis, and between the role of the reader and that of a juror? How do we interpret “facts” in a literary text versus a legal context? In this course, we will read Russian novels that feature trials in order to explore the relationship between the literary and the legal, two very different ways of making sense of the world that collide in novels about trials.  As part of our exploration of this relationship, we will put literary characters on trial in order to question how guilt, judgment, and redemption operate in the works we read. Mock trials of literary characters were a form of entertainment in Soviet Russia and émigré communities in the 1920s and 1930s. By staging our own mock trials, we can interrogate our role as readers and investigate some of our texts’ major ethical questions: Do we have the right to judge others? Can people be redeemed? What is the relationship between reading and judgment? What does justice look like in a literary work? Readings will include nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian literature, as well as real trial transcripts. There are no prerequisites for this course.

Limited to 20 students. Omit 2023-24. Prof. Drennan.

2023-24: Not offered

225 Vladimir Nabokov’s Double Exile

(Offered as RUSS 225 and ENGL 315) This course looks at the fiction and career of Vladimir Nabokov, a trilingual fiction writer of genius and a sophisticated self-promoter. As a liberal aristocrat living in exile in Berlin and Paris during the 1920s and 1930s, the young Nabokov was hailed as the hope of an entire generation of émigrés – artists and writers forced out of their homeland following the Russian Revolution. We first examine this European career in its publishing and media contexts, including his writing for translation into German, French, and English and for adaptation into screenplays for silent and early sound cinema. We then track to his move to America and discover how a transnational career is crafted. Modernist fiction of this period was shadowed and overshadowed by a burgeoning film industry: we will watch a number of great movies from the silent and early sound era, including some of the masterpieces of Weimar cinema by the directors who would go on to create film noir in Hollywood. We will focus on a range of Nabokov’s darkly comic novels: The Luzhin Defense, Laughter in the Dark, Invitation to a Beheading, Lolita, Pnin, and Pale Fire. During the course we will learn through Nabokov’s fiction to appreciate the subtleties of irony, voice, and parody; to think more deeply about the relation between history and culture (how do events engender works of art?); and to study the interaction between literature and visual culture. All readings in English.  

Fall semester. Professor Parker.

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

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 discussions in English.

Fall semester. Professor Ciepiela. 

Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2019, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

235 Stalin and Stalinism

(See HIST 235)

241 Russian and Soviet Film

(Offered as RUSS 241 and FAMS 341) Lenin proclaimed, famously, that cinema was “the most important art of all” for the new Soviet republic.  This course explores the dramatic rise of Russian film to state-sanctioned prominence and the complex role it came to play in modern Russia’s cultural history.  We examine the radical experiments of visionary filmmakers who invented the language of film art (Bauer, Kuleshov, Eisenstein, Vertov, Dovzhenko); the self-conscious masterpieces of auteurs who probed the limits of that language (Tarkovsky, Paradzhanov, Sokurov); and the surprising ways in which films ostensibly designed to enact cultural and social myths of power, history, and national identity in the end reshaped their makers, their audiences, and the myths themselves. Two 80-minute meetings a week. 

Offered Spring Semester. Professor Kunichika.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2016

245 Identity and Ideology: The Cinema of Moscow, Berlin, and Hollywood

(Offered as RUSS 245, EUST 245 and FAMS 245). Are our screens really windows through which we glimpse other worlds? Or just mirrors reflecting our own preconceptions? Are they doors through which we enter new experiences? Or cheap frames for prepackaged content? The power of visual media to emancipate its users – or trap them – was first recognized in the cinema, from the earliest silents to the flourishing of classical sound film. Film has always been the great art of exile, produced by immigrants and cosmopolitans facilitating the circulation of images, identities and ideologies. Yet it was also the battleground of competing visions of modernity, from Hollywood’s exported Americanism to Soviet political and artistic utopias, to Nazi promises of national renewal. In this course we focus on the interactions between Soviet, German, and American cinemas in the first half of the twentieth century as a way of understanding visual media’s power to shape identity and circulate ideology. We will look not only at questions of propaganda and censorship, but also at mediation, circulation, and exchange, as well as the crucial skills of (self-)translation and adaptation. Key figures include Grigory Alexandrov, Boris Barnet, Bertolt Brecht, Louise Brooks, Marlene Dietrich, Sergei Eisenstein, Greta Garbo, Piel Jutzi, Lev Kuleshov, Fedor Otsep, G.W. Pabst, Anna Sten, and Josef von Sternberg. No previous background or language knowledge required – all films with English subtitles. Omitted 2023-24.

Professor Parker

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

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

(Offered by RUSS 255 and EUST 255) 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 2021-22

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

257 Russian Performances

(Offered as RUSS 257 and THDA 221) What gives force to our actions, our words, and our creations? How do their meanings shape our experience of ourselves and the world around us? We will examine these fundamental questions by drawing on two scholarly resources: the methods of performance studies and materials drawn from various points in Russia’s cultural history. The field of performance studies asks what makes performances matter, on stage and screen as well as  in our daily lives, and radically expands our idea of what counts as performance, bringing together politics and material culture, psychology and sociology, the past and the present. Performances in this sense, broadly understood—from imperial rituals of power to avant-garde artists’ experiments, from early-Soviet public festivals to intimate diaries, poems to monuments, exquisite jewelry to medal ribbons—have been central to the story of Russia’s continuing transformation. Yet the Russian language has no single word that serves as an adequate equivalent of the English-language concept of “performance.” What, then, do the Russian performances we will examine together— a sampling of specific events, objects, and writings from a range of periods—illuminate for us about the promise, and the limits, of using the idea of performance to understand the complex connections between art and experience, creating and acting? Among our primary sources will be materials from the Amherst Center for Russian Culture; students will have an opportunity to work with rare publications and archival documents from the collection. No knowledge of Russian or previous study of Russian history or performance required; all materials in English. Two 80-minute meetings a week.

Fall semester. Professor Wolfson.

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

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 Ciepiela 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. Omitted 2023-24. Professor Wolfson.

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

311 Art and Revolution

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. How differently might nature, the city and man himself look? Can we access other dimensions? How can we more fully experience the world? This course introduces you to experiments in Russian writing, painting, theater and music that helped influence how we think of art today, such as Malevich’s Suprematism, the Ballets Russes and Soviet constructivism.

These artists’ faith in creative freedom meant that they followed their own paths, and the amazing variety of their work is part of the story we will follow. 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 Building); 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. 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.

Omitted 2023-24, Professor Ciepiela

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2024

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.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2023-24. 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

321 Monuments, For and Against

(Offered as RUSS 321, ARHA 321 and ARCH 320) Taking case studies from Russian, Soviet, and Post-Soviet history, this course examines monuments and memorials in literature, cinema and the arts. Focusing on specific episodes and case studies, we will consider the form and cultural politics of monuments and memorials, and especially how these objects become arenas in which conceptions of art, history, and politics are contested. We will be interested as much in monuments that were built as those that were destroyed—or dismembered, defaced, dismantled, or relocated—and those that were envisioned but never realized. Case studies will include monuments to Peter the Great, the Soviet avant-garde’s attack on traditional monuments, the monumental assemblage of the Soviet Pavilion at the Paris 1937 Universal Exposition, to Leninopad (the demolishing of monuments to Lenin in Ukraine). We will also consider how these case studies may help us to better understand the dynamics at play in debates around monuments from other periods and cultures—as well as the creative responses that artists have imagined as they grappled with the question of what to do with monuments. No knowledge of the history and culture of Russia and the Soviet Union is required.

Spring semester. Professor Kunichika.

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. Omitted 2021-22. 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 2021-22. Professor Ciepiela.

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

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

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 Wolfson.

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