Course Descriptions

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

Russian Department Syllabus Collection

A collection of course syllabi may be found at the link here. A valid Dartmouth ID and password is required to access this folder.

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.

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.

11. Special Topics in Russian Popular Culture

This course examines the popular culture of Russia in the 19th and 20th centuries: songs, jokes, box-office movie hits, detective and science fiction, posters, sports, and television. We will investigate the production, consumption, and interpretation of popular culture and what entertainment and leisure activities — and the manipulation of popular forms by political elites— reveals about Russian society.

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

12. Ethnicity and Nationalism in Russia and the Neighboring States

This course explores the emergence of ethnic identity and nationalism among the peoples of the Russian empire, the Soviet Union and their successor states. Drawing on anthropological and historical works, it examines the process of formation of a centralized multiethnic Russian empire and the liberation struggle of its nationalities prior to 1917. It then proceeds to the crucial period of 1917-1991 and explores the theory and practice of nationalities politics of the Bolshevik, Stalinist, and the late Soviet socialism. The dissolution of the USSR, the rise of inter-ethnic conflicts, and the relations between ethnic groups in Russia and the successor states are the focus of the second half of the course, where several case studies are discussed in depth.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

31. Transgressive Novels: Masterpieces of Russian Fiction

Under a succession of oppressive forms of government, including monarchy, communism, and today's oligarchy, Russians have resisted the norms imposed upon them in ways that raise moral dilemmas. In this course we will read works of 19th century Russian authors that grapple with these questions. Works read in translation. The x-hour will be used for students able to read the Russian texts in the original. Authors are likely to include Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy.

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

32. Twentieth Century Russian Literature: Revolution, Terror, and Art

This course examines the impact which the turbulent history of twentieth-century Russia had on literature and on writers struggling to defend their integrity. The century began with Russian Modernism, out of which came experimental masterpieces in all the arts. This movement was terminated in 1930 by Stalin, who imposed harsh controls under the aegis of Socialist Realism, which dominated the arts until Stalin's death in 1953. Since then, Russian writers have gradually liberated themselves from the demands of the censors to produce a literature as articulate and exciting as the great novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Readings include such novels as Zamyatin's We, Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago and Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

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. Special Topics in Russian Literature

In this course students will study works of Russian literature, taught in translation. Each offering of the course will be based on a particular theme or period. Students may take the course more than once provided that the topic is not the same as in a previous election.

  • The Violence of the Story: Masterpieces of Short Fiction in Russia & the West
  • Narrating the City: Soviet Urban Culture and the 20th Century
  • Special Topics in Russian Literature (madman, holy fools, fanatics)
  • Modern Conspiracies

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

RUSS 38.13

Homelands and Diasporas: Russian Jews on Three Continent

Drawing on a variety of disciplines, such as anthropology, history, sociology, political science, and cultural studies, and sources ranging from academic works to works of fiction and films, the course first explores the history and culture of Russian (pre-1917) and especially Soviet Jews – a major and significant segment of the world Jewry - prior to the massive immigration of the 1970s-1990s. The rest of the course involves a comparison of the experience of the RSJ in the three major countries they have immigrated to—Israel, US and Germany—as well as those remaining in Russia today. 

Sergai Kan
Spring 2021


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.

45. Special Topics in Russian Language

The course is designed as an advanced Russian language course and is organized around a particular topic in Russian grammar. Typical topics include the Russian verb, Russian word formation, or word order and information structure in Russian. Selected readings will serve as the basis for discussions, exercises, and compositions.

Prerequisite: Russian 29.

48. Structure of Modern Russian

This course will introduce the student to the necessary methodology for analyzing the linguistic structure of Russian, and will examine the theoretical foundations of such analysis. The course will focus on the structure of the noun, pronoun, and verb, as well as on various aspects of Russian word formation.

Prerequisite: Russian 29. Dist: QDS; 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). The course is conducted in Russian.

Prerequisite: At least one course in the 40s; students who have equivalent preparation may enroll with permission of the instructor. Dist: LIT; WCult: W.

85. Independent Reading

87. Thesis