Students who want to achieve a high level of proficiency in the Russian language and study Russian literature in depth can pursue a minor in Russian language and literature. The program offers elementary through third-year language courses and a number of courses on 19th- and 20th-century Russian literature (in translation) on a wide variety of topics. Students are strongly encouraged to study abroad.

An independent minor, Russian language and literature is administered by International and Area Studies. Students undertaking this minor are encouraged to consider a major in Eurasian studies (through IAS), comparative literature or history, all of which can be pursued with a focus on Russia and the former Soviet Union.

Contact:Mikhail Palatnik
Phone:314-935-4558
Email:palatnik@wustl.edu
Website:http://ias.wustl.edu/russian

There is no major in Russian language and literature. Students interested in Russian are encouraged to consider a major in Eurasian studies, comparative literature or history, all of which can be pursued with a focus on Russia and the former Soviet Union.

The Minor in Russian Language and Literature

Total units required: 20 

Prerequisites:

Russ 101D Elementary Russian and Russ 102D Elementary Russian or the equivalent.

Requirements:

Russ 211DIntermediate Russian4
Russ 212DIntermediate Russian4
Russ 322DThird-Year Russian3
Russ 324DThird-Year Russian3
One 300- or 400-level course in Russian Literature3
One elective course chosen either from an advanced Russian language and culture course (Russian 404, 405, 431 or 432) or from a Russian subject course taught in such departments as history, music or political science3
Total Units20

Regulations:

  • Students can earn up to 6 credits from a semester or summer study abroad program, with the approval of the Russian language and literature adviser.
  • All advanced units must be unique to the Russian language and literature minor (i.e., not counted toward any other major or minor).
  • Students must earn at least a B- in language courses in order to continue to the next level. They must also maintain at least a B- average in all courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements. Students who do not meet this requirement may either repeat the course(s) in question or earn at least a B- in an approved equivalent course or courses (either during the summer or in a study abroad program).

Additional Information

Study Abroad: Students are strongly encouraged to participate in a Washington University study abroad program in St. Petersburg, Russia. Semester options include both language and area studies programs. Although the summer program is language-focused only, there are programs available for students at any language level, including beginning. The university's programs in St. Petersburg are conducted under the auspices of the Council for International Educational Exchange (CIEE), the longest running such program in Russia. Financial aid may be available for these programs through both Washington University and CIEE.

Visit online course listings to view semester offerings for L39 Russ.


L39 Russ 101D Elementary Russian

Interactive multimedia course designed to emphasize spoken language; includes the very latest video materials geared toward situations in contemporary post-Soviet Russian life. Also provides thorough understanding of fundamental grammar and develops reading and writing skills. Five class hours per week, plus an additional hour for conversation, review and testing.

Credit 5 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: LCD, LS BU: HUM EN: H


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L39 Russ 102D Elementary Russian

Continuation of 101D. Interactive multimedia course designed to emphasize spoken language; includes the very latest video materials geared toward situations in contemporary Russian life. Also provides thorough understanding of fundamental grammar and develops reading and writing skills. Five class hours per week, plus an additional hour for conversation, review and testing.

Credit 5 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: LCD, LS BU: HUM


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L39 Russ 211D Intermediate Russian

Designed to solidify students' command of Russian grammar and advance conversational, reading and writing skills. Includes video materials produced in Russia and conveying an up-to-the-minute picture of contemporary Russian life.

Credit 4 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: LCD, LS BU: HUM


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L39 Russ 212D Intermediate Russian

Continuation of 211D, completes comprehensive review of Russian grammar and further advances conversational, reading, writing and listening skills. Revised textbook with new audio and video materials that convey an up-to-the-minute picture of contemporary Russian life.

Credit 4 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: LCD, LS BU: HUM


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L39 Russ 315 Selected Areas for Special Study I: Russian Music


Same as L27 Music 315

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM EN: H


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L39 Russ 322D Third-Year Russian

Designed to develop students' abilities in the contemporary spoken language. Conversational practice is combined with a review of grammatical concepts. Students also work with newspapers, read literary texts and write compositions. Prerequisite: Russ 212D or equivalent.

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: LCD, LS BU: HUM


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L39 Russ 324D Third-Year Russian

Designed to develop students' abilities in the contemporary spoken language. Conversational practice is combined with a review of grammatical concepts. Students also work with newspapers, read literary texts and write compositions. Prerequisite: Russ 322D or equivalent.

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: LCD, LS BU: HUM


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L39 Russ 332 From Swan Lake to Punk Prayer: Russian Theater, Drama and Performance

This course explores performance in Russia from the wandering minstrels of medieval times to protest art of the present day. Genres include tragedy and comedy (Griboedov, Pushkin Gogol), drama (Ostrovsky, Turgenev, Chekhov), experimental theater (Stanislavsky, Evreinov, Meyerhold), ballet (Imperial, Soviet, Ballets Russes), opera (Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Shostakovich), and performance art (Futurists, Pussy Riot, Pavlensky). We also consider performativity in rituals, public events, and everyday life. Our discussions center on the analysis of short and full-length plays, critical theory, specific productions and performers, and the role that performance has played in shaping Russian culture. All readings are in English translation. No prerequisites.

Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: HUM, LCD


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L39 Russ 350C The 19th-Century Russian Novel (WI)

The 19th-century "realistic" novel elevated Russian literature to world literary significance. In this course we do close readings of three major Russian novels: Alexander Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and Lev Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. While we consider a variety of formal and thematic concerns, special emphasis is placed on the social context and on questions of Russian cultural identity. Readings and discussions are supplemented by critical articles and film. This is a writing-intensive course: workshops are required. All readings are in English translation. No prerequisites.

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH, SD, WI A&S IQ: HUM, LCD, SD, WI Art: HUM BU: HUM


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L39 Russ 3559 Socialist and Secular? A Social History of the Soviet Union

This class explores daily life and cultural developments in the Soviet Union, 1917 to 1999. Focusing on the everyday experience of Soviet citizens during these years, students learn about the effects of large-scale social and political transformation on the private lives of people. To explore daily life in the Soviet Union, this class uses a variety of sources and media, including scholarly analysis, contemporaneous portrayals, literary representations and films. Students receive a foundation in Soviet political, social and cultural history with deeper insights into select aspects of life in Soviet society.
Same as L22 History 3559

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH, CD, SD A&S IQ: HUM, LCD, SD BU: IS EN: H


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L39 Russ 363 Russian Literature and Opera: Transpositions and Transgressions

This interdisciplinary course surveys the intersections between Russian literature and opera from the 19th century to the present. Literary works in a variety of genres (short stories, narrative poems, plays and novels) by Russian authors (with Pushkin as a clear favorite) have inspired generations of leading Russian composers, resulting in significant operatic adaptations, including Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, based on Pushkin, Prokofiev's The Gambler, based on Dostoevsky, and Shostakovich's The Nose, based on Gogol. For each pairing of author and composer, we read and discuss the literary text before considering the ways in which the original was refined, trimmed and generally transformed for the operatic stage. We frequently view opera productions and consider issues of staging, embodiment and fidelity to the original. The broader goal of the class is to consider the possibilities and limits of artistic media, specifically the points of agreement or dissonance between literature and music.
Same as L97 IAS 363

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH, CD A&S IQ: HUM, LCD EN: H


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L39 Russ 364 Anarchism: History, Theory, and Praxis

This course analyzes the origins, historical trajectories and influence of anarchism from its classical period (1860s-1930s) until the present. It examines the major personalities, complex ideas, vexing controversies and diverse movements associated with anarcho-collectivism, anarcho-communism, individualist anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, anarchist feminism, green anarchism, lifestyle anarchism and poststructuralist anarchism. In doing so, it explores traditional anarchist concerns with state power, authority, social inequality, capitalism, nationalism, imperialism and militarism. It also analyzes anarchism's conception of individual and collective liberation, mutual aid, workers' organization, internationalism, direct democracy, education, women's emancipation, sexual freedom and social ecology. Special attention is given to past and contemporary globalizing processes and their relation to the dissemination and reception of anarchism in the global South.
Same as L97 IAS 364

Credit 3 units. A&S: SS A&S IQ: LCD, SSC, SD Arch: SSC Art: SSC BU: BA EN: S


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L39 Russ 372 Dostoevsky's Novels

In this discussion-based course we focus on two of Dostoevsky's major novels: Demons (also translated as The Possessed and Devils) and The Brothers Karamazov. Our close readings of the novels are enriched by literary theory and primary documents providing socio-historical context. All readings are in English translation. No prerequisites.

Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: HUM, LCD, WI


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L39 Russ 375 Topics in Russian Lit and Culture: Madmen or Visionaries? (WI)

Where is the borderline between "insanity" and the "visionary" experience? What is the correlation between madness and creativity? How does the Russian conception of madness compare to the Western one? In general, how do our cultural experiences shape our perception of madness? These are some of the questions we address in this course as we explore the role and representation of madness in Russian culture and literature. Class discussions focus on close readings of formative works by Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gippius and Nijinsky. These primary literary texts are supplemented by critical and theoretical articles as well as film. This is a writing-intensive course: workshops are required. All readings are in English translation. No prerequisites.
Same as L97 IAS 3750

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH, CD, WI A&S IQ: HUM, LCD, WI BU: IS EN: H


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L39 Russ 379 Russians Abroad: Literature, Migration, Identity

This course focuses on several waves of Russian emigration in the 20th century: the so-called "White Russian" emigration in the wake of the 1917 Revolution; the exile of dissidents and defectors from behind the "Iron Curtain"; Jewish emigration in the 1980s; and migrations and displacements after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Through our exploration of novels, short stories, poetry, memoirs, literary essays and film, we "travel" to China (Harbin), Turkey, Europe (Paris, Berlin, Prague), America (Mexico City, New York), Central Asia and Israel. We read works by Nabokov, Tsvetaeva, Bunin, Brodsky, Ulitskaya and others. Main topics discussed include memory, place, nostalgia, alienation, citizenship, and various constructs of personal and cultural identity. All assignments are in English and English translation. There are no prerequisites.
Same as L97 IAS 379

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH, CD A&S IQ: HUM, LCD BU: IS EN: H


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L39 Russ 3866 Interrogating "Crime and Punishment"

Whether read as psychological thriller, spiritual journey, or social polemic, Dostoevsky's 1866 novel Crime and Punishment has inspired diverse artistic responses around the world. From the 19th century to the present day, writers and filmmakers have revisited (and often subverted) questions that Dostoevsky's novel poses: What internal and external forces cause someone to "step over" into crime? What are the implications of a confession? To what extent can the legal system provide a just punishment? Are forgiveness and redemption possible, or even relevant? What role does grace — or luck — play in the entire process? This course begins with our close reading of Dostoevsky's novel and then moves on to short stories, novels, literary essays and movies that engage in dialogue with the Russian predecessor. A central concern of our intertextual approach is to explore the interplay between specific socio-historical contexts and universal questions. All readings are in English. No prerequisites.
Same as L97 IAS 3866

Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: HUM, LCD, SD Arch: HUM Art: HUM BU: BA EN: H


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L39 Russ 396 Comintern: The Communist International's Global Impact

The Communist International was the third of the global left-wing organizations aimed to develop communist organizations around the globe to aid the development of a proletarian revolution. Begun in 1919, hosted in Moscow, and closely tied to the developing USSR, the Comintern hosted seven World Congresses and 13 Enlarged Plenums before Stalin dissolved it in 1943. This course examines the history of the nearly 25 years of the Comintern, paying particular attention to engagement with countries outside of the Soviet sphere. Class texts provide a general historical overview and interrogate central ideological arguments/debates across several countries and political systems. Course materials look at the Comintern's engagement with Fascism and the Spanish Civil War, ideas of Nationalism and Internationalism, and Self-Determination in the Colonial World. Class units are designed to highlight regional similarities and differences, taking a global approach to the study of Communism. Students gain an understanding of the global political complexities developing after World War I and leading to World War II. Reflecting on the critique of imperialist capitalism offered by the Comintern, students explore liberation struggles and ideological dictatorships around the globe.
Same as L97 IAS 396

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH A&S IQ: HUM EN: H


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L39 Russ 404 Fourth-Year Russian

Further develops students' abilities in all spheres of the language: speaking, listening, reading, writing. Vocabulary building, conversation practice and student compositions based on materials from the Russian mass media, contemporary films and readings in modern Russian literature. Prerequisite: three years of college Russian or equivalent.

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: LCD, LS


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L39 Russ 405 Fourth-Year Russian

Further develops students' abilities in all spheres of the language: speaking, listening, reading, writing. Vocabulary building, conversation practice and student compositions based on materials from the Russian mass media, contemporary films and readings in modern Russian literature. Prerequisite: three years of college Russian or equivalent.

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: LCD, LS


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L39 Russ 419 Readings in Russian Literature, 1861 to 1917

Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: LCD


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L39 Russ 431 Russia Today and Yesterday: Cultural Perspectives (in Russian)

On the basis of contemporary literature, official media, popular songs and films, the course examines the ever-changing culture of the Russian people and society during the pre- and post-perestroika periods. Class discussions, lectures and student presentations. Prerequisite: three years of college Russian or the equivalent.

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: LCD, LS Art: HUM BU: IS


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L39 Russ 432 Russia Today and Yesterday (in Russian)

Readings of 19th- and 20th-century Russian writers, as well as other literary and non-literary texts. Refinement and expansion of Russian communication skills (speaking, listening, writing, reading). Class discussions, student presentations, compositions. Prerequisite: Russ 431 or the equivalent.

Credit 3 units. A&S: LA A&S IQ: LCD, LS Art: HUM


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L39 Russ 4442 The Jewish Experience in Eastern Europe

A study of Jewish culture, society and politics in Poland-Lithuania, Hungary, the Czech lands, Russia, Romania and the Ukraine, from the 16th century through the 20th century. Among the topics covered are: economic, social and political relations in Poland-Lithuania; varieties of Jewish religious culture; Russian and Habsburg imperial policies toward the Jews; nationality struggles and anti-Semitism; Jewish national and revolutionary responses; Jewish experience in war and revolution; the mass destruction of East European Jewish life; and the transition from Cold War to democratic revolution.
Same as L22 History 4442

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH, CD


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L39 Russ 4869 Reading War and Peace

What is it like to enter into a fictional world for a semester? In this course we read Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace in its entirety. Set during the Napoleonic wars (1805-1812), War and Peace takes the reader on a panoramic journey from the battlefield to the hay field, from the war room to the ballroom. It is a vivid portrayal of 19th-century Russian society as well as a penetrating examination of the causes and consequences of violence and the nature of love and family dynamics. In our discussions, we explore philosophies of history, issues of social injustice and gender inequality, the psychology of human suffering and joy, questions of literary form and genre, and the very experience of reading a long work of fiction. We begin with a selection of Tolstoy's early works that laid the foundation for War and Peace and conclude with a few of Tolstoy's late works that had an enormous influence on, among others, Mahatma Gandhi. Primary texts are supplemented with literary theory and film. All readings are in English.
Same as L97 IAS 4869

Credit 3 units. A&S: TH, CD, SD A&S IQ: HUM, LCD, SD EN: H


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Endowed Professors

Hillel Kieval
Gloria M. Goldstein Professor of Jewish History and Thought
PhD, Harvard University
(History; Jewish, Islamic and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures)

James V. Wertsch
David R. Francis Distinguished Professor
PhD, University of Chicago
(Anthropology; IAS)

Professor

Margit Tavits
PhD, University of Pittsburgh
(Political Science)

Assistant Professor

Anika Walke
PhD, University of California, Santa Cruz
(History)

Senior Lecturers

Mikhail Palatnik
MA equivalent, University of Chernovtsy
MA, Washington University

Nicole Svobodny
Assistant Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
PhD, Columbia University

Professors Emeriti

Milica Banjanin
PhD, Washington University

Max J. Okenfuss
PhD, Harvard University
(History)