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2020-2022 HWS Catalogue (REVISED)

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2018-2020 HWS Catalogue (REVISED)

Catalogue Archive

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The Russian Area Studies program curriculum allows students to combine courses in the humanities and the social sciences. Students learn not only about the language, culture, history, and society of Russia, but also about the geopolitically related regions in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. This contextualization of Russia allows students to understand better the current events involving the Russian Federation. Such knowledge is especially valuable given the critical role this region plays in the world and its importance to U.S. foreign policy.

Russian Area Studies students go on to careers in a wide variety of fields. Recent graduates are working in such areas as international development, finance, public health, and law, at both U.S. and international organizations. Some of the program's alumni have gone on to study at top graduate programs in the field. Students considering graduate work in Russian area studies or Slavic languages and literatures should consult with their academic adviser as early as possible, ideally by the end of the sophomore year.

Russia’s past includes incredible struggles for social justice, economic equity, and civil liberties, sometimes against unbelievable odds. In Russian culture, the country’s writers and artists are considered political and ethical spokespersons just as much as are politicians or philosophers. Because of this, Russian Area Studies lends itself naturally to a wide range of interdisciplinary approaches.

The Russian Area Studies program offers two tracks for a major and two tracks for a minor. The major and minor in Russian History and Society are interdisciplinary, drawing on courses from history and politics. The major in Russian Language and Culture and the minor in Russian Language are disciplinary, drawing primarily on courses language and literature. 

Only courses for which the student has received a grade of C- or better will be counted toward either of the majors or minors. A term abroad in at one of the Colleges' approved programs is strongly recommended for either of the majors.

interdisciplinary, 11 courses

  • RUSE 101 Blood and Ice: Russian Empires 
  • RUSE 112 Dangerous Words: Russian Literature and Society
  • RUSE 460 Readings and Research in Russian Area Studies
  • Three Russian language courses, starting with RUS 102
  • Two courses from the Russian area studies Humanities electives
  • Three courses from the Russian area studies Social Science electives

disciplinary, 11 courses

  • RUSE 101 Blood and Ice: Russian Empires
  • RUSE 112 Dangerous Words: Russian Literature and Society
  • RUSE 460 Readings and Research in Russian Area Studies
  • Six Russian language courses, starting with RUS 102
  • Two non-language courses from the Russian Area Studies offerings, one of which must be from the Humanities and one of which must be from the Social Sciences.

interdisciplinary, 6 courses

  • RUSE 101 Blood and Ice: Russian Empires
  • RUSE 112 Dangerous Words: Russian Literature and Society 
    Four courses from the Russian Area Studies electives selected in consultation with an adviser.

disciplinary, 6 courses
Six Russian language courses starting with RUS 102

Humanities Electives
ENG 346 20th-Century Central European Fiction
HIST 261 20th Century Russia
HIST 263 The Russian Land: 1000 to 2000 (Core course for both majors and for the Area Studies/History and Society minor)

Social Sciences Electives
BIDS 120 Russia and the Environment
POL 257 Russia and China Unraveled

Contextual Courses
Cannot count for either of the minors or for the Language and Culture major; maximum of one can count for the History and Society major.
ECON 233 Comparative Economic Systems and Institutions
ECON 236 Introduction to Radical Political Economy
ECON 344 Economic Development and Planning
HIST 238 World Wars in Global Perspective
HIST 276 The Age of Dictators
POL 140 Introduction to Comparative Politics
POL 245 Europe East and West
POL 279 Radical Thought Left and Right
SOC 300 Classical Sociological Theory

For courses with a RUSE designation, all readings and discussion are conducted in English. There are no prerequisites for courses at the 200 level.

RUS 101, 102 Introductory Russian I and II An introduction to the Russian language designed particularly to develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Weekly laboratory is mandatory.

RUS 201, 202 Intermediate Russian I and II These courses develop further the basic language skills acquired in the introductory courses. They include an intensive study of grammatical structures and continued emphasis on oral and written skills, they include supplementary reading with vocabulary useful for everyday situations and creative writing based on course material.

RUS 410, 411 Topics Russian Language and Culture These advanced Russian language and culture courses solidify and expand upon basic language skills, leading to a strong command of written and spoken Russian.  Course materials might include literary texts, films, news items, and material from the Internet.  These courses are appropriate for students who have completed two or more years of language study and may be repeated for credit.

RUSE 112 Dangerous Words: Russian Literature and Society
This course introduces students to the dominant literary and cultural traditions in Russia from the nineteenth into the twenty-first century, with an emphasis on developments in poetry and prose, but also with reference to movements in art, music, theater, and dance. Close readings of texts allow students to understand better the Russian cultural tradition and the how Russian literature and history intertwine. No previous knowledge of Russian literature or history is expected. This course serves as a core course for Russian Area Studies majors.

RUSE 120 Sport and Ideology: Gender, Race, National Identity This course examines the intersection of ideology and sport in multiple forms. Beginning with a broad introduction to the major issues in the application of questions regarding gender, race, class, and ideology to sport, we will primarily view sport as ideological struggle through the 20th century Olympic games movement and the contest between the Soviet and Eastern Bloc nations and the U.S., though we will also consider the larger context of sport as a window to social issues. We will use a variety of primary materials, including monographs, articles, interviews, documentaries, and feature films. 

RUSE 137 Vampires: From Vlad to Buffy This course examines the vampire from its historical roots in the legend of Vlad Tepes to the American commercialization and popularization of the vampire in media such as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Students discuss the qualities of the folkloric vampire and its role in traditional culture, how the folkloric vampire has evolved over time and across cultural borders, and why the vampire is such a pervasive cultural icon. The approach is interdisciplinary, using folktales, short stories, legends, novels, films, television shows, and analytical studies. 

RUSE 203 Russian Prison Literature The Soviet system of prisons and labor camps operated for much of the 20th century. Under Dictator Josef Stalin, millions of the country's own citizens were imprisoned on false charges for years, worked to death in Siberian mines, or executed outright. The perpetrators of these crimes have never been brought to justice. In this course students read from the literature that arose in response to this tragedy: works by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Varlam Shalamov, Lidia Ginzburg, and Georgii Vladimov. 

RUSE 204 Russian Film 1917-2001 This course is an introduction to the most important trends, directors, and films in Russian cinema from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. Students are exposed to a wide range of movies, including early silent films, experimental films of the 1920s and early 1930s, socialist realist films, films on World War II and Soviet life, and films from contemporary Russia. This course will acquaint students with the overall contours of Russian filmmaking and with the fundamentals of reading film.

RUSE 206 America Through Russian Eyes How do you define America? How do you define America? Does your definition mesh with what the rest of the world might think? This course explores American culture and identify through readings and films by American and Russian poets, novelists, and directors. From Red scares through the Cold War and Evil Empire all the way to the New Russians, twentieth-and twenty-first-century Americans and Russians have shared a deep mutual fascination, and have often defined themselves via contrast with the forbidding, alluring Other. We will study travelogues, memoirs, novels, stories, and films by artists as diverse as John Steinbeck, Langston Hughes, Gary Shteyngart, Ellen Litman, and Aleksei Balabanov, using these works to refine our own understanding of American culture. 

RUSE 208 Fantastika Sci-Fi and Fantasy Science fiction and fantasy are a cornerstone of Russian culture. During the Soviet push toward modernization, airplane, rocket ships, and extraterrestrial beings inspired audiences to reach "ever higher." The tradition first surfaced in Russia much earlier, with connections to the fantastical tales of 19th-century giants Pushkin and Gogol; it is enjoying a popular resurgence today, in the post-Soviet period. This course presents an overview of Russian science fiction and fantasy literature. We will explore how science fiction and fantasy relate to the Russian cultural and historical context, and how they portray an ideological stance. We will study the genre's origins in socialist utopian philosophy, its flowering during the early twentieth century, and its recent reawakening since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Key questions include how technological advancement challenges social norms; how science and fantasy relate to spiritual life; how technological Utopias come into being; and how technological Utopias can become dystopias. We will study stories, films, and novels from the 19th century through the present day, with special emphasis on science fiction in the Soviet period. 

RUSE 209 Flora, Fauna, and Society Cold, uninviting, vast and desolate... these are the impressions that come to mind when we imagine the Russian landscape. Can one find beauty and inspiration in such an environment? Russians have asked themselves this very question. This course focuses on the interconnections between ecological philosophy and artistic expression in Russian and Soviet literature. We will investigate the various factors that contributed to the formation of traditional cultural attitudes toward the non-human world in Russia, and consider the impact of key historical and cultural developments, such as the Bolshevik Revolution and subsequent industrialization, upon these traditional attitudes. The objectives of the course will be to develop a foundational understanding of environmental and ecological thought, an expanded knowledge of Russian culture and history, and a fundamental set of skills in literary analysis that will prove valuable in any future reading of works of fiction. We will examine a wide variety of texts: from medieval odes and romantic poetry, to socialist realism and modernist phantasmagoria. These works will be discussed in broad Russian and European cultural and historical contexts, as well as ecocritically, in terms of their relevance to contemporary thinking on the environment and potential crises of the 21st century. 

RUSE 251, 351 Sexuality, Power, and Creativity in Russian Literature In the 20th century, Russia's "other voices" continued to express the souls and spirit of individual men and women, but now under the profound impact of historical events from revolution and world wars through glasnost, perestroika, and the post-Soviet transition. Witnessing and experiencing great suffering, these heroic writers could neither remain silent under censorship nor write the socialist realist propaganda dictated by the Soviet government. Topics include Russian perceptions of male/female, masculinity/femininity; the female voice; the tension between poet and muse; gender bending; understandings of sexuality in the early Soviet period; the breaking of sexual mores during Glasnost; and how current Russian debates on gender and sexuality cite and relate to this cultural heritage. 

RUSE 350 Dead Russians, Big Books Nineteenth century Russian writers recorded "the body and pressure of time" and mapped the human heart, exploring relationships between men and women, sexuality, issues of good and evil, and the alienated individual's search for meaning in the modern world. In brilliant, yet deliberately accessible work, prose writers recorded the conflict and struggle of their distinctively Russian cultural tradition, with its own understanding of ideas about religion, freedom, and the self, and its own attitudes toward culture, historical, and social order. 

RUSE 460 Capstone Seminar Designed for all majors and minors in Russian Area Studies, this seminar provides a culminating experience. The seminar will engage students in current scholarship across the disciplines of Russian Area Studies and enhance student approach to research. Each seminar will be based upon fictional and non-fictional texts relating to a central theme, which will change from year to year. The seminar will explore a variety of approaches to the theme, with special attention to the sub-fields of greatest interest to class members. In addition to our key texts, students become familiar with current scholarship and research methods, hone their presentation skills, and develop their own research project. In addition to discussing our key texts, we will devote class time to critiquing current scholarship, developing research methods, articulating a research project, workshopping/revising the seminar paper, and honing presentation skills. Potential themes include: Soviet culture and society during the Second World War; Russia in transition; Man and nature in Russia; the soldier in the Russian imagination; Petersburg; Moscow; Petersburg vs. Odessa.