The major in Russian Language and Literature aims to provide a solid foundation in the Russian language and a broad introduction to Russophone culture, particularly literary culture, during the Imperial, Soviet, and post-Soviet periods. The program grounds the study of literature in specific historical, social, and cultural contexts. It includes the study of Russian-language film and elements of literary and cultural theory. The major also fosters a broad interdisciplinary perspective by encouraging students to take relevant courses in such fields as history, philosophy, political science, art history, and music. Students are expected to achieve a degree of fluency in Russian that will enable them to enter into dialogue with Russia—past and present—as readers and writers, and as speakers of a language native to over 170 million people worldwide. Coursework includes materials in the original ranging from literary classics to current journalism and other mass media. We recommend that students study abroad in a region where Russian is spoken to accelerate their fluency in the language.
Program Learning Goals
Majors in Russian language and literature will have a solid foundation in the Russian language and a broad introduction to Russophone culture, particularly literary culture, during the Imperial, Soviet, and post-Soviet periods. Majors will demonstrate a grasp of critical practices, including close readings, and an ability to analyze Russian-language literature within specific historical, social, and cultural contexts. Students will be able to critically examine how Russian literature constructs a model of reality and a particular set of values. Students will be able to communicate complex ideas effectively in standard written English, and to critically evaluate sources and use the conventions of citation and attribution correctly. Majors are also expected to study Russian-language literature within a broad interdisciplinary perspective in order to analyze and synthesize information and ideas from multiple disciplines including Comparative Literature, Cinema Studies, History, Art History, and the politics of Soviet and post-Soviet Russia.
Majors will be able to demonstrate language proficiency at the 300-level or above, i.e., be able to communicate effectively in the language, read a variety of literary and non-literary texts in the original, achieve intermediate to advanced competency in speaking, reading, and writing, and demonstrate a knowledge of the structure of Russian. Majors will also learn how to effectively use tools (reference works, internet, etc.) and technology appropriate to learning Russian.
The major consists of a minimum of 36 credits or 12 courses in Russian language and literature, including at least 18 credits at or above the 200 level. Students must complete all required coursework for the major or minor with grades of C or better. All majors must fulfill the following requirements:
- six language courses beyond 101. One semester of the Practicum may count toward language credit. Students whose knowledge of Russian places them beyond 01:860:302 are required to substitute other 860 courses to complete a total of 36 credits.
- two surveys: 01:860:259 (Introduction to 19th Century Russian Literature) and 01:860:260 (Introduction to 20th Century Russian Literature)
- 01:860:315 Reading Russian Literature in Russian
- three electives offered in the department at the 200-400 level, at least one of which must be a 400 level course.
In addition to these course requirements, each Russian major will complete the following in early April of their senior year:
- submit a portfolio of 3 papers (of the student's choosing) from literature and culture courses taken in the program, at least one of which is from a 400-level course. Please make sure to include the prompt for the paper when putting together your portfolio!
- take oral and written proficiency tests in Russian.
- submit a short exit essay (suggested length 2-4 pages). This is an informal essay in which students will be asked to reflect on their experiences in the Russian Program.
These materials will be used for internal evaluation to ensure that Russian majors are meeting the learning goals of the program. They will not be graded and will not be entered into the student's record or reflected in the transcript.
*Students whose knowledge of Russian places them beyond 01:860:302 are required to substitute other 860 courses to complete 37 credits.
Questions? Contact the Russian Program director or the Program Coordinator Mary Mehalick at