Course Descriptions

See the Registrar's Web site for additional descriptions of the Russian courses.

Russian Language

1, 2, 3. Introductory Russian

An introduction to Russian as a spoken and written language. None of these serves in partial satisfaction of the Distributive or World Culture Requirements.

27, 28, 29. Intermediate Russian

This sequence of courses begins with a systematic review of Russian grammar, where special emphasis is placed on such difficult areas as participles, aspects and verbs of motion. As the sequence progresses,an effort is made to build vocabulary through extensive reading and to increase fluency through a series of oral and written reports.

RUSS27 prerequisite: RUSS3, or permission

RUSS28 prerequisite: RUSS27, or permission

RUSS29 prerequisite: RUSS28, or permission

41. Advanced Conversation and Composition

The language-learning goal of the course is to expand the students' vocabulary, to work with new vocabulary and idioms, and to review and reinforce certain grammatical and stylistic subtleties. Students will be introduced to Russian cultural traditions and some specifically Russian attitudes in an exploration of problems of cross-cultural communication and miscommunication. There will be films, short stories for discussion, grammar exercises, and other materials.

Prerequisite: Russian 29 or permission of the instructor.

42. Advanced Russian through History, Press and Film

Advanced Russian through the study of the Russian society and a brief synopsis of Russian history. Students will continue to develop their spoken, written, and reading proficiency in the Russian language. There will be stories and articles for discussion, one film, and grammar exercises.

Prerequisite: Russian 29 or permission of the instructor.

Study Abroad

21. Russian Civilization: Study Abroad

This course includes activities associated with the rich cultural life of St. Petersburg: lectures on Russian art, architecture, music, ballet, cinema, theater and literature. Also included are visits to the city's many museums, such as the Hermitage and the Russian Museum, and attendance at live performances at such places as the Marinsky Theater in Petersburg, or the Bolshoi in Moscow. Credit for this course is awarded to students who have successfully completed the Dartmouth LSA+ in Russia.

Prerequisite: Membership in the Foreign Study Program. Dist: INT; SOC; WCult: W.

22. The Russian Language: Study Abroad

This course represents the course in grammar and other written work done by the students at the University of St. Petersburg. Credit for this course is awarded to students who have successfully completed the LSA+ in Russia.

Prerequisite: Membership in the Foreign Study Program. Dist: WCult: W.

23. The Russian Language: Study Abroad

This course represents the work done in phonetics classes and in the conversation classes at the University of St. Petersburg. Credit for this course is awarded to students who have successfully completed the LSA+ in Russia.

Prerequisite: Membership in the Foreign Study Program. Dist: WCult: W.

Literature, Culture and History

10. Introduction to Russian Civilization

Examination of Russia as a cultural, national and historical entity part of and yet apart from both Europe and Asia. Russia is a continental power of vast proportions, whose traditions, character, national myths, and forms of political organization often seem a mirror-image to those of the United States. After a brief survey of Russian history, the course will examine certain determinants of Russian culture, including Christianity, multi-nationalism, and the status of Russian civilization on the periphery of Europe. The course will then deal with the art, music and popular literature of Russia, and conclude by examining certain contemporary issues, including the complex coexistence of Russian and Soviet culture. 

Taught in English. Open to all classes. Dist: TMV; WCult: CI.

13. Slavic Folklore: Witches, Vampires, and Firebirds

In this course, we will discuss a variety of genres from Russian folklore. As we move from the familiar genre of the riddle to the often mystifying beliefs and rituals of the ancient Slavs and then to the fairy tale, comfortingly familiar from childhood, we will learn to not only recognize the richness and density of texts that may initially seem uncomplicated but also to discern the patterns and meanings behind the apparently exotic narratives and behaviors. Through this process, we will gain knowledge of the theoretical highlights of folkloristics, an academic discipline that strives to understand the remarkable similarity of stories told by people around the world yet, at the same time, to account for the no less fascinating ethnic, cultural, and historical particulars of the tales, songs, jokes, and customs of different people. By thoroughly studying one of the world's richest oral traditions, Slavic folk life and folk lore, we will acquire the tools and techniques necessary for collecting, documenting, and interpreting folklore — which is perhaps the most truly international of all arts.

Taught in English. Open to all classes. Dist: LIT; WCult: W; INT.

14. The Age of Brainwashing: A History of Russian and Eastern European Film (Identical to Film & Media Studies 42)

An interpretive history of Russian, Soviet, Post-Soviet and Central European film. Topics include: tsarist Russia and the psychological school of the silent film (Evegeniy Bauer); the Revolution and the Golden Age of the Soviet montage (Sergey Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov); Stalinism and film as an instrument of mind control and propaganda; late Soviet symbolist cinema (Andrey Tarkovsky); and contemporary Russian Film Noir. The course also touches upon Eastern/Central European film, including the Czech New Wave (surrealist animator Jan Svankmeyer) and the "post-Yugoslavian wave" (Emir Kusturica and Dusan Makoveev).

In addition to regular weekly screenings, all films will be made available online in an experimental format: divided into separate short clips that will be used in class for in-depth analysis and close cinematic readings. The final project (done in groups) will be creative: you will make a video-parody or video-stylization of one of the studied films.

Taught in English. Open to all classes. Dist: ART; WCult: W.

15. Russia and West: From Early Times to Present Day (Identical to HIST 92.6)

In its thousand-year history, Russia has occupied a unique place between Europe and Asia, and both Russian and foreign observers have wrestled with defining its place vis-à-vis western ( European) civilization. This course will explore Russia's place in world history, examing the complex and evolving relationshop of Russia and Europe, and the Soviety Union and the West, from the middle ages to the present. particular emphasis will be given to the complex relationship of Putin's Russia with the United States today.

Dist: INT or SOC: WCult: W

17. Russian Fairy Tales

In this course we will investigate the reasons why fairy tales are such enduring and powerful forces in our lives. Our special focus will be the incredibly rich body of traditional Russian folk and fairytales as well as their modern adaptations in the visual arts, music, literature, theater, and film.

Taught in English. Open to all classes. Dist: LIT; WCult: W

18. Russian Theater (Identical to Theater 10)

This course is devoted to Russian drama and theater from the 19th through the 21st century. We will read eight plays that are central to Russian literary and theatrical tradition and then discuss their most significant interpretations on both the Russian and the world stage. The meetings will be conducted in a non-traditional format. In our examination of the plays, we will attempt to model the process of stage production in accordance with the principles developed by Konstantin Stanislavsky — a celebrated Russian director whose approach to theater transformed acting in Russia and beyond.  The course will culminate in the production of a play by a Russian playwright which students themselves will cast, direct, and design.

All readings are in English. Dist: LIT; WCult: W.

19. Understanding the Russians: The Role of Language and Culture in Communications

With the approach of the next millennium and its promise of global communications networks, we are becoming more and more aware of our world as a 'global village' and of the implications this has, both linguistic and cultural, for communication across national and ethnic boundaries. This course will examine those areas in the study of culture and of language pragmatics with relevance to such communication between Americans and Russians. Readings and class discussions will focus on such phenomena as 'culture' and 'language' shock; the linguistics and cultural evidence for differences in the two countries' views of such phenomena as time and space, as well as for such concepts as public and private 'spheres,' friendship, or of what constitutes a conversation. A variety of sources from literary works, TV documentaries and film, to travel handbooks and the conduct of negotiations will be examined for the cultural and language script they subsume in the two countries.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; INT; W.

Literature, Culture, History

31. The World as Word: 19th-Century Russian Fiction

In his Philosophical Letters, Pyotr Chaadaev,  a 19th century Russian intellectual, compared Russian history to the history of Western civilization. Chaadaev proclaimed that Russia had been cut off from the global community, belonged to no cultural system, and contributed nothing to the progress of the human spirit. Since then, Russian writers and thinkers have wrestled with Chaaadaev's categorical verdict. One response from the 20th century poet Osip Mandelstam pointed out that Chaadaev had overlooked overlooked one singular contribution: the Russia's language. "Such a highly organized, such an organic language is not merely a door into history, it is history itself." Taking Mandelstam's point to its logical conclusion, it is Russia's literature that becomes explore some of the texts that make up this Rosetta stone. While reading some of the most celebrated works from 19th century Russian fiction - texts by Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Turgenev, Goncharov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Chekhov - we will attempt to account for the distinct character of Russian Literature and its unique role in Russian history and culture.

Taught in English. Open to all classes. Dist: LIT; WCult: W & Cult

32. Reading Red: 20th-Century Russian Fiction

This course examines the major works of 20th century Russian literature. During that century, the people of Russia experienced a series of cataclysmic events including two World Wars; the overthrow of the 300-year-old Romanov dynasty and the triumph of the Bolshevik revolution; a Civil War; the mass trauma of collectivization; the Great Terror of Stalinism; and the collapse of the Soviet Union. As we read and discuss novels, stories, poems, and plays written by the Russian writers of that time, we will consider the correlations and tensions between the Russian sociohistorical reality and artistic expression. In addition to readings from literary and historical sources, we will watch films created by some of the most celebrated 20th-century Russian filmmakers.

Taught in English. Open to all classes. Dist: LIT; WCult: W.

33. Reading Russia Today: Avant-Gardes, Dystopias and Dreamers

This course focuses on Russophone literature, film, art and culture in the new millennium (from the early 2000s to the present day), incorporating a crucial discussion of the late Soviet period and the 1990s. Beginning with the collapse of the USSR, cultural life in Russia has been characterized by ceaseless change, but also the reemergence of familiar patterns, tendencies and problems. Much contemporary Russian literature and art is caught up in complicated negotiations with the Soviet past and its social, cultural and political institutions, while also looking ahead to an uncertain, sometimes menacing future. In an effort to understand Russia today, we will examine the stories that Russia tells about itself—to itself and the outside world—as well as stories others tell about Russia. We will read novels, short stories, plays and poetry, watch films and discuss visual and performance art that engages with gender and sex, activism and violence, family and national identity, internet communication and other language problems.

Taught in English. Open to all classes. Dist: LIT; WCult: W.

35. Dostoevsky and the Problem of Evil

Dostoevsky laid bare the tragedy of human existence and probed the innermost recesses of the human psyche to show the terrifying isolation of a human being separated from God. Revolted by a world in which innocent children suffer, Dostoevsky tested the meaning to be found in Christianity, personal responsibility and human solidarity. This course examines his major novels, with particular emphasis on the artistic expression of his philosophical views. Those views will be examined in the context of Russian intellectual history. Readings include Notes from the Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Demons and The Brothers Karamazov.

Taught in English. Open to all classes. Dist: LIT; WCult: W.

36. "The Seer of the Flesh": Tolstoy's Art and Thought

From childhood to the end of his life, Tolstoy struggled to overcome his fear of death. As he himself put the problem, 'Is there any meaning in my life which the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?' In his quest for bulwarks against that fear, he studied the great philosophers and he examined closely the value system of the peasants. He found temporary relief in war and in marriage, but the definitive solution always eluded him. The evolution of this theme, and the formal devices by which Tolstoy expressed it in his prose, will be traced in the autobiographical cycle, the Caucasian stories and the Sevastopol tales. Those works will serve as a context in which to scrutinize the major novels, War and Peace and Anna Karenina. This course will conclude with a brief examination of the prose which Tolstoy produced after his conversion.

Taught in English. Open to all classes. Dist: LIT; WCult: W.

38.10. Modern Conspiracy: The Russian and American Conspiracist Traditions (Identical to COLT 63.02)

Conspiracy narrative has come to dominate our national and international political discourse like no other time in modern history. It is therefore essential that we understand the operation of conspiracy narrative, its psychological allure and political function, and its devastating social consequences. In this course, we will investigate two national conspiracist traditions, the American and the Russian, and the parallel rise and stunning convergence of Russian and American conspiracism in our current political moment. In order to do so, we will inquire into the historical origins, the form, function, and effectiveness of conspiracist narratives in these two traditions in the 20th and 21st centuries. Ultimately we will approach conspiracy theories as ways of knowing, of penetrating and ordering complex and opaque realities. They are also powerful narrative weapons that imperil the shared truths on which cohesive societies are based. Our course texts include The Master and Margarita (Bulgakov), The Crucible (Miller), and Libra (DeLillo), Ivan the Terrible Part II (Eisenstein) The Manchurian Candidate (Frankenheimer) and The Matrix (The Wachkowskis) as well as literary and cultural studies of conspiracist narrative and ideation.

Taught in English. Dist:INT or TMV; WCult:W

50.02. The Russian Revolution (Identical to HIST 56)

The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Bolshevik seizure of power proved to be among the most important events of the 20th century, and they had profound implications for world history up until the current day. In this course, students will examine the causes and consequences of these momentous occurrences and grapple with a set of complex and intricate historical questions that still divide historians. We will begin by examining how in the late 19th century far-reaching social changes & external challenges confronted the 300 year-old Romanov dynasty, and how, ultimately, this dynasty was unable to adapt to the modern era. Students will learn about the multifarious political movements that emerged in opposition to the old regime, and about the so-called Revolution of 1905, which shook but did not overthrow the tsar.

Dist:SOC; WCult:W

71. Advanced Seminar in Russian Culture

In this seminar, advanced learners and native speakers of Russian have an opportunity to read in the original and to study in depth works that are central to Russian intellectual history and literary tradition. Topics vary from year to year and may concentrate either on individual authors (Pushkin, Chekhov, Gogol), or a period (Middle Ages, The Silver Age, the Post-Soviet era), or a phenomenon (Russian Humor, Popular Culture, Utopianism).

Prerequisite: At least one course in the 40s or permission of the instructor.

Taught in Russian. Dist: LIT; WCult: W.



85. Independent Reading

87. Thesis