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.
Fall semester. Professor J. Taubman, Visiting Professor Walling, and the Department.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Continuation of Russian 01.
Requisite: Russian 01 or equivalent. Spring semester. Professor J. Taubman and Visiting Professor Walling.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
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 appropriate course placement for students with 2 to 3 years of high school Russian. Fall semester. Professors Rabinowitz, Ciepiela, Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev and the Department.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Continuation of Russian 03.
Spring semester. Professor Wolfson and Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
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: Russian 04 or equivalent. First-year students with strong high school preparation (usually 4 or more years) may be ready for this course. Fall semester. Professor Wolfson and Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
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. Spring semester. Professor Rabinowitz and Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
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: Russian 11 or consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.2019-20: Offered in Spring 2020
A half 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. Fall semester. Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.2019-20: Not offered
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.
Limited to 35 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Rabinowitz.2019-20: Not offered
In this course we will study modern Russian cultural history by attending to how key social actors have been represented. Beginning with the 17th-century religious schism and continuing up through the present day, we will study the lives of the saint, the aristocrat, the peasant, the poet, the intellectual, the revolutionary, the exile, the leader, and the merchant. We will draw on memoirs and eyewitness accounts such as Archpriest Avvakum’s “autobiography,” the first example of the genre in Russia, Alexander Herzen’s My Life and Thoughts (alongside Tom Stoppard’s renovation of his story as a recently staged trilogy of plays, Coast of Utopia), the testimony of women terrorists like Vera Figner, and the diaries of average Soviet citizens during the Stalin era. We also will consider fictional renderings of typical or historical figures in various media, works like Ivan Turgenev's A Huntsman's Sketches, Sergei Eisenstein’s film Ivan the Terrible, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. No acquaintance with Russian language or culture is assumed.
Omitted 2009-10. Professor Ciepiela.2019-20: Not offered
(Offered as Russian 20 and History 06.) The space that had been known to the West as simply "Russia" (in the historical form of the Russian Empire/USSR) was in fact inhabited by a stunning diversity of peoples and cultures. This class is a team-taught course designed to introduce students to the diversity of historical experiences of different ethnic and national groups of Eurasia. The class will discuss the region shaped by the Russian Empire/Soviet Union, explore how different ethnic, national and confessional groups responded to imperial power, and become acquainted with the religious and cultural practices of the Eurasian peoples. The course will also examine how Russian intellectuals imagined "Eurasia," investigate images of "the Orient" in Russian literature, consider the processes of imperial expansion, and survey major hallmarks of Eurasia's past.
The course combines lectures, discussions, and colloquia offered by eight faculty members from the five campuses specializing in different aspects of Eurasian Studies, including history, literature, religious studies, linguistics and political science.
Spring semester. Five College Professor Glebov.2019-20: Not offered
How and why did Russian culture produce world-famous fiction in the first half of the nineteenth century? This course traces the evolution of innovative narrative forms in Russian story-telling from Pushkin's novel-in-verse, Eugene Onegin, to the early works of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. We shall pay particular attention to the characteristic Russian mimicry and parody of Western literary conventions in the short stories of Pushkin and Gogol before examining the experimental novel-length fiction of Lermontov (A Hero of Our Time) and Turgenev (Fathers and Sons). The course also introduces important lesser-known writers like Pavlova, Aksakov, and Leskov who contributed greatly to the rise of a distinctive Russian prose tradition. Readings in translation, with special assignments for those able to do reading in Russian.
Fall semester. Professor Peterson.2019-20: Not offered
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. Conducted in English.
Spring semester. Professor Rabinowitz.2019-20: Not offered
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), Olesha, Solzhenitsyn, Sinyavsky, Brodsky, Chukovskaya, 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 2009-10. Professor Wolfson.2019-20: Not offered
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 2009-10. Professor Peterson.2019-20: Not offered
Among the many paradoxes Dostoevsky presents is the paradox of his own achievement. Perceived as the most “Russian” of Russian writers, he finds many enthusiastic readers in the West. A nineteenth-century author, urgently engaged in the debates of his time, his work remains relevant today. The most influential theorists of the novel feel called upon to account for the Dostoevsky phenomenon. How can we understand Dostoevsky’s appeal to so many audiences? This broad question will inform our reading of Dostoevsky’s fiction, as we consider its social-critical, metaphysical, psychological, and formal significance. We will begin with several early works (“Notes from Underground,” “The Double”) whose concerns persist and develop in the great novels that are the focus of the course: Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov. All readings and discussion in English. Conducted as a seminar. Two class meetings per week.
Fall semester. Professor Ciepiela.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Count Leo 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 thirteen 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 non-fictional writings ("The History of Yesterday," Childhood, Strider, Confession, Sebastopol Stories, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, "What Is Art?"), as we explore his abiding search for the meaning of ever-inaccessible "self," his far-reaching artistic innovations, 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.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Wolfson.2019-20: Not offered
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. Conducted in English. Two class meetings and one or two required screenings a week.
Omitted 2009-10. Professor Wolfson.2019-20: Not offered
(Offered as European Studies 34 and Russian 34.) Between the mid-nineteenth century and the mid-twentieth century, poetry was revolutionized both in France and in Russia; nowhere else did the avant-garde proliferate more extravagantly. This class will focus on the key period in the emergence of literary modernity that began with Symbolism and culminated with Surrealism and Constructivism.With the advent of modernism, the poem became a “global phenomenon” that circulated among different languages and different cultures, part of a process of cross-fertilization. An increasingly hybrid genre, avant-garde poetry went beyond its own boundaries by drawing into itself prose literature, philosophy, music, and the visual and performing arts. The relation between the artistic and the literary avant-garde will be an essential concern.We will be reading Rimbaud; the French Symbolists (Mallarmé, Laforgue, Valéry); the Russian Symbolists (Blok, Bely); Apollinaire, Dada, and the Surrealists (Breton, Eluard, Desnos, Char, Michaux); and the Russian avant-garde poets (Mayakovsky, Pasternak, Khlebnikov, Tsvetaeva).Our study of the arts will include Symbolism (Moreau, Redon); Fauvism (Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck); Cubism, Dada, and early Surrealism (Duchamp, Ernst, Dali, Artaud); the “World of Art” movement; Primitivism and Constructivism (Goncharova, Malevich, Rodchenko, Eisenstein). Course will be taught in English. Students who read fluently in French and/or Russian will be encouraged to read the material in the original language. Spring semester. Professors Ciepiela and L. Katsaros.2019-20: Not offered
The topic changes every year. This year’s theme will be the selected Russian prose of Vladimir Nabokov. Taught entirely in Russian.
Fall semester. Senior Lecturer Babyonyshev.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
The topic changes every year.
Omitted 2009-10.2019-20: Not offered
Meetings to be arranged.
Open to, and required of, seniors writing a thesis. Fall semester. The Department.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019
Independent Reading Course.
Fall semester. The Department.2019-20: Offered in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020