The information below is taken from the printed catalog the college produces each year. For more up to date information, including links to course websites, faculty homepages, reserve readings, and more, use the 'courses' or semester specific link to your left.

01. First-Year Russian I. Introduction to the contemporary Russian language. By presenting the fundamentals of Russian grammar and syntax, the course helps the student make balanced progress towards competence in listening comprehension, speaking, reading, writing, and cultural competence. Four meetings per week, plus an additional conversation hour conducted by a native speaker.

First semester. Professors TBA and Lecturer Babyonyshev.

02. First-Year Russian II. Continuation of Russian 01. Two sections will be taught.

Requisite: Russian 01 or equivalent. Second semester. Professor Peterson, Lecturer Babyonyshev and Staff.

03. 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: Russian 02 or the equivalent. This will ordinarily be the appropriate course placement for students with 2-3 years of high school Russian. First semester. Professor TBA and Lecturer Babyonyshev.

04. Second-Year Russian II. Continuation of Russian 03.

Requisite: Russian 03 or equivalent. Second semester. Professor Rabinowitz and Lecturer Babyonyshev.

11. Third-Year Russian: Studies in Russian Language and Culture I. This course advances skills in reading, speaking, understanding, and writing Russian, with materials from twentieth-century culture. Readings include fiction by Chekhov, Zoshchenko, Olesha, Nabokov, and Kharms, and poetry by Akhmatova, Blok, and Pasternak. Conducted in Russian, with frequent writing assignments and occasional grammar and translation exercises.

Requisite: Russian 04 or equivalent. First-year students with strong high school preparation (usually 4 or more years) may be ready for this course. First semester. Professor Ciepiela and Senior Lecturer Emerita Schweitzer.

12. 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: Russian 11 or equivalent. Second semester. Professor TBA and Senior Lecturer Emerita Schweitzer.

14H. Advanced Intermediate Conversation and Composition. A 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: Russian 11 or consent of the instructor. Second semester. Lecturer Babyonyshev.

15H. Advanced Conversation and Composition. A course designed for advanced students of Russian who wish to develop their fluency, pronunciation, oral comprehension, and writing skills. Major attention will be given to reading, discussion and interpretation of current Russian journalistic literature. This course will cover several basic subjects, including the situation of the Russian media, domestic and international politics, culture, and everyday life in Russia. Two hours per week.

Requisite: Russian 12 or consent of the instructor. First semester. Lecturer Babyonyshev.

Courses Offered In English

17. 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); 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 35 students. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Rabinowitz.

21. Russian Literature and Society: The Rise of a National Tradition. Literature was the main vehicle for the transmission of national culture and identity in nineteenth-century Russia. In a society limited by repressive censorship and authoritarian rule, the Russian author assumed the role of a "second government." Why and how did Russian writers ascend to this special status? What is uniquely Russian about Russian literature? What gives it power to shape and influence identities? This course studies the emergence of a national literary tradition in Russia as it was fashioned by writers and their reading publics in the first half of the nineteenth century. Among authors to be read are Karamzin, Pushkin, Gogol, Lermontov, Pavlova, Turgenev, Goncharov, and early Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. Literary texts will be placed in their wider social and cultural contexts, Russian as well as European. Topics for discussion include the Russian public sphere, the role of the artist in society, the Russia vs. the West controversy, the myth of St. Petersburg, the superfluous man, the "woman question." All readings in translation, with special assignments for those able to read in Russian.

First semester. Professor TBA.

22. Survey of Russian Literature From Dostoevsky to Nabokov. An examination of major Russian writers and literary trends from about 1860 to the Bolshevik Revolution as well as a sampling of Russian émigré literature through a reading of representative novels, stories, and plays in translation. Readings include important works by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gorky, Sologub, Bely, and Nabokov. The evaluation of recurring themes such as the breakdown of the family, the "woman question," madness, attitudes toward the city, childhood and perception of youth.

Second semester. Professor Rabinowitz.

23. Russian Literature in the Twentieth Century. The Russian intelligentsia expected its writers to be the conscience of the nation, twentieth-century saints, or, as Solzhenitsyn put it, "A second government." Stalin demanded that writers be "engineers of men’s souls." Are these two visions all that different? Did the avant-garde’s view that art should change the world and the intelligentsia’s moralizing tradition open the door for the excesses of Stalinism and Socialist Realism? Has the fall of the Soviet regime liberated Russian writers or deprived them of their most powerful subject? In search of answers, we will study major works of twentieth-century prose, and some poetry, by Zamiatin, Mayakovsky, Akhmatova, Babel, Platonov, Bulgakov (The Master and Margarita), Pasternak, Solzhenitsyn, Sinyavsky, Brodsky, Petrushevskaya, and others. We will pay considerable attention to parallel developments in the visual arts, using materials from the College’s Thomas P. Whitney Collection. Conducted in English, all readings in translation (students who read Russian will be given special assignments). Two meetings per week.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2007-08.

25. Seminar on One Writer: Vladimir Nabokov. An attentive reading of works spanning Nabokov’s entire career, both as a Russian and English (or "Amero-Russian") author, including autobiographical and critical writings, as well as his fiction and poetry. Special attention will be given to Nabokov’s lifelong meditation on the elusiveness of experienced time and on writing’s role as a supplement to loss and absence. Students will be encouraged to compare Nabokov’s many dramatizations of "invented worlds" and to consider them along with other Russian and Western texts, fictional and philosophical, that explore the mind’s defenses against exile and separation. All readings in English translation, with special assignments for those able to read Russian. Two meetings per week.

Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Peterson.

27. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Extensive reading in the variety of narrative forms explored by Dostoevsky, from his early semi-autobiographical prison memoir and fictional confessional monologues to the mature dialogic form of his "polyphonic" novels. Special emphasis will be placed on Dostoevsky’s probing studies of extremist mentalities, both criminal and saintly, and on his lifelong struggle to create a psychology and philosophy adequate to express the breadth of human nature. Some attention will be given to prominent thinkers impressed by Dostoevsky, including Nietzsche and Bakhtin. The course will culminate with a close reading of The Brothers Karamazov. Several brief essays and an independent project that investigates works not assigned or inquires into Dostoevsky’s impact on later writers will be required. All readings in English translation, with special assignments for students able to read Russian. Two meetings per week.

Not open to first-year students. First semester. Professor Peterson.

28. Tolstoy. Lev Tolstoy’s life and writings encompass self-contradictions equaled in scale only by the immensity of his talent: the aristocrat who renounced his wealth, the former army officer who preached nonresistance to evil, the father of 13 children who advocated total chastity within marriage and, of course, the writer of titanic stature who repudiated all he had previously written, including War and Peace and Anna Karenina. We will read these two masterworks in depth, along with other fictional and publicistic writings (Childhood, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Kreutzer Sonata, What Is Art?), as we explore both the nature of his artistic achievement and his evolving views on history, the family, war, death, religion, art, and education. Conducted in English, all readings in translation, with special assignments for students who read Russian. Two class meetings per week.

Second semester. Professor J. Taubman.

29. Russian and Soviet Film. Lenin declared "For us, cinema is the most important art," and the young Bolshevik regime threw its support behind a brilliant group of film pioneers (Eisenstein, Vertov, Kuleshov, Pudovkin, Dovzhenko) who worked out the fundamentals of film language. Under Stalin, historical epics and musical comedies, not unlike those produced in 1930s Hollywood, became the favored genres. The innovative Soviet directors of the 1960s and 1970s (Tarkovsky, Parajanov, Abuladze, Muratova) moved away from politics and even narrative toward "film poetry." Post-Soviet Russian cinema has struggled to define a new identity, and may finally be succeeding. This course will introduce the student to the great Russian and Soviet film tradition. Frequent short writing assignments. Conducted in English. Two class meetings and one or two required screenings a week.

Omitted 2007-08. Professor J. Taubman.

30. Chekhov and His Theater. (Also Theater and Dance 21.) See Theater and Dance 21.

Omitted 2007-08.

Advanced Literary Seminars


43. Advanced Studies in Russian Literature and Culture I. The topic changes every year. This year’s theme will be "The Poet and History." We will read the historical writings of Alexander Pushkin in different genres, namely his story "The Captain’s Daughter" and his essay "The History of Pugachev during the reign of Catherine the Great." We will then read Marina Tsvetaeva’s essay "Pushkin and Pugachev," in which she reflects on how prose genres shape the poet’s viewpoint on historical events. If time allows, we will also examine Pushkin’s and Tsvetaeva’s poems on historical themes. Taught entirely in Russian.

First semester. Senior Lecturer Emerita Schweitzer.

44. Advanced Studies in Russian Literature and Culture II. The topic changes every year. This semester we will read Bulgakov’s novel Master and Margarita. In this major twentieth-century novel, Bulgakov aims his satiric pen at the excesses of Stalinist Russia in a fantastic and philosophical meditation on the nature of good and evil. Boundless fantasy intertwines with reality, buffoonery with profound seriousness, satire with genuine religious feeling; Muscovites of the 1930s coexist with medieval witches and devils, Soviet bureaucrats with Jesus of Nazareth, Mephistopheles with Pontius Pilate. Two class meetings per week. Taught entirely in Russian.

Second semester. Lecturer Babyonyshev.

77, 78. Senior Departmental Honors. Meetings to be arranged. Open to, and required of, seniors writing a thesis.

First and second semesters. The Department.

97, 98. Special Topics. Independent Reading Course.

First and second semesters. The Department.

Related Courses

Birth of the Avant-Garde: Modern Poetry and Culture in France and Russia, 1870-1930. See Colloquim 36.

First semester. Professors Katsaros and Ciepiela.

Russia: A History of Late Imperial and Soviet Russia. See History 06.

Second semester. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Czap.

Seminar in Russian History. See History 80.

First semester. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Czap.

Problems of Internation Politics. See Political Science 75.

Second semester. Professor W. Taubman.