Russian Studies
Offered by the Russian and Russian Studies department.

“All about us is unearthly and radiant.” A.A. Akhmatova

Major in Russian Studies

Russian Studies major worksheet

The Russian Studies major is a broad-based, interdisciplinary course of study. Students acquire a basic knowledge of Russian and former Soviet culture, language and literature, combined with economics, history and politics.

NOTE on rotation of courses: We offer different courses to our majors during their four years of study. Russian literature and culture courses rotate on a three-year cycle; a few are on a four-year cycle.

This major consists of a minimum of 10 semester courses.

Russian language

Four semester courses selected from:
RUSS 110 Beginning Russian I
RUSS 111 Beginning Russian II
RUSS 210 Intermediate Russian I
RUSS 211 Intermediate Russian II
RUSS 240 Advanced Russian
RUSS 241 Advanced Russian Composition and Conversation
RUSS 242 Advanced Russian Conversation and Grammar
RUSS 243 or RUSS 343 Advanced Russian: Grammar, History, Politics

Russian literature and culture

Three semester courses selected from:
RUSS 101 Russian Folklore
RUSS 200 Russian Literature: Icons to Revolution
or RUSS 300 Russian Literature: Icons to Revolution – Advanced
RUSS 201 Revolution, Sci-Fi, Dystopia
or RUSS 301 Revolution, Sci-Fi, Dystopia – Advanced
RUSS 203 Russian Drama
RUSS 281 Russian Arts and Culture
RUSS 282 Russian Film
RUSS 284 Women in Russian Culture
RUSS 285 Russian Jewish Culture
RUSS 305 Topics in Russian Literature
RUSS 343 Advanced Russian: Grammar, History, Politics
RUSS 351 Selected Prose Writers
RUSS 352 Russian Poetry
RUSS 370 Russian for the Arts, Business and Politics

Courses in other departments

Three semester courses selected from at least two different departments. Courses include:
ECON 288 Foundations of Political Economy
HIST 215 History of Russia
POLS 249 Russian Foreign Policy
POLS 255 Russian Politics
POLS 335 National Identity in the Post-Soviet Space
POLS 379 International Security Policy
REL 285 Russian Jewish Culture*

*Russian Jewish Culture can be taken either as RUSS 285, and count as a Culture course, or as REL 285, a course outside the department. It cannot count for both.

The major requires a minimum of three courses at the 300 level. These may be selected from the culture courses or from the courses in other departments. Substitutions by permission of the department. A capstone experience is required of all Wheaton students and may be accomplished through course work, research or other projects.

Minor requirements

Russian Studies minor worksheet

We offer two minors, one entirely in Russian, the other in Russian with some English.

Minor in Russian Language

The minor in Russian language, done entirely in Russian, requires a total of five courses: four semesters of language courses, and one semester chosen from RUSS 351, RUSS 352 or RUSS 370.

Both minors require a minimum of one course at the 300 level or above–this is a college–wide requirement.

  • Russian Studies

    RUSS 098 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

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    RUSS 099 – Independent Study

    Students, in consultation with the appropriate instructor, may arrange to pursue independent study on topics not covered by the regular course offerings.

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    RUSS 101 – Russian Folklore

    A general, interdisciplinary introduction to Russian culture with special emphasis on folklore, from pre-Christian times to the present. The course will center on the study of folk tales, fairy tales, and epics; folk beliefs, traditions and superstitions; the heritage of folklore in Russian literature, theatre, music and art.

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    RUSS 110 – Beginning Russian I

    The principal elements of the Russian language, including reading, writing, speaking and cultural awareness. Emphasis is placed on colloquial language and the ability to converse in Russian. Class work is supplemented by one hour per week of language laboratory work.

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    RUSS 111 – Beginning Russian II

    A continuation of Russ 110 with further emphasis on grammar and conversation. Class work is supplemented by one hour per week of language laboratory work.

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    RUSS 198 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

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    RUSS 200 – Russian Literature: Icons to Revolution

    A broad survey course with primary emphasis on the classics of the 19th century. The study of strong passions and clashing beliefs in 19th-century Russian literature and culture. Focus on love and social commentary in the works of Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Pavlova, Chekhov, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. Cultural materials include icons and Russian wooden architecture, the myths of St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia’s expansion into the Caucasus and Siberia, 19th-century music, and trends in 19th-century painting.

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    RUSS 201 – Revolution, Sci-Fi, Dystopia

    The study of Russian literature and culture in the 20th century, from the turmoil of the Revolution through the terror of Stalin’s Soviet Union to the momentous changes of the 1990s. The focus will be on literature and art, grappling with aesthetic concerns amid censorship, purges and rapid political change. Readings might include: Akhmatova, Babel, Zamyatin, Nabokov, Gorky, Pasternak, Solzhenitsyn, Bitov, Baranskaia, Tokareva, Petrushevskaia. Cultural materials cover the avant-garde, Soviet theatre and ballet, samizdat and other unofficial art, glasnost and the new trends of the past few years.
(Previously Russian Literature: From Revolution to the Present)

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    RUSS 203 – Russian Drama

    A survey of modern Russian theatre, including some opera and ballet. The course includes a brief history of Russian theatre and its traditions in directing and set/costume design. Readings include a variety of short to full-length plays by such writers as Pushkin, Gogol, Ostrovsky, Chekhov, Kharms, Gippius, Erdman, Shvarts, Aitmatov, Petrushevskaia and Nina Sadur.

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    RUSS 210 – Intermediate Russian I

    Written and spoken Russian. More fundamentals of Russian grammar, with emphasis on oral practice, comprehension and composition. Class work is supplemented by one hour per week of language laboratory work.

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    RUSS 211 – Intermediate Russian II

    Continuation of Russ 210. Written and spoken Russian. More fundamentals of Russian grammar, with further emphasis on oral practice, comprehension and composition. Class work is supplemented by one hour per week of language laboratory work.

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    RUSS 240 – Advanced Russian

    Review of Russian grammar. Russian roots and word formation. Russian syntax and composition. Emphasis on vocabulary building.

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    RUSS 241 – Advanced Russian Composition and Conversation

    Review of Russian grammar. Russian style and syntax, with emphasis on composition and conversation.

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    RUSS 242 – Advanced Russian Conversation and Grammar

    Review of Russian grammar. Emphasis on oral comprehension and verbal proficiency.

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    RUSS 243 – Advanced Russian: Grammar, History, Politics

    Review of Russian grammar. Emphasis on verbal proficiency and Russian cultural/political vocabulary.

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    RUSS 281 – Russian Arts and Culture

    Begins with a brief survey of Russian political history, then focuses on Russian and Soviet art, including some non-Russian works from former republics of the Soviet period (Georgia, Armenia, Latvia, Central Asia). Includes ballet and theatre, cinema and classical music as well as bard music and formerly underground rock, some literature and poetry, and art from the icons to the avant-garde to unofficial and official art.

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    RUSS 282 – Modern Russian Film

    The course will acquaint you with the culture of modern Russia through its cinema. Lectures with discussion and analysis of a series of Russian films from Eisenstein to current productions, emphasizing content and moral/political issues as well as artistic technique.

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    RUSS 284 – Women in Russian Culture

    A historical survey of the cultural and political impact of women in Russia, with emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. Works by and about women, including works by Russian women in politics and mathematics, literature and poetry, theatre and painting.

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    RUSS 285 – Russian Jewish Culture

    This course discusses Russian Jewish culture and its extraordinary role in Russian literary and social history. The Jews of Russia created an original culture that combined profound religious piety with extreme secularism, and political and aesthetic conservatism with daring experiments in literature, arts and film. 
The course will cover the most important issues of Russian-Jewish coexistence and will focus on the cultural, linguistic and ideological transformation of Russian Jews in the late 19th and 20th centuries, from pious Yiddish-speaking shtetl dwellers to secular Russian-speaking urbanites. Literary works of major 19th- and 20th-century Russian writers, and guest lectures on art, religion, history and political history, will provide the primary material for discussion. 
Taught with the Department of Religion.

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    RUSS 298 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

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    RUSS 299 – Independent Study

    Students, in consultation with the appropriate instructor, may arrange to pursue independent study on topics not covered by the regular course offerings.

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    RUSS 300 – Russian Literature: Icons to Revolution – Advanced

    Advanced version of Russian and Russian Studies 200 – Russian Literature: Icons to Revolution (RUSS 200).

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    RUSS 301 – Revolution, Sci-Fi, Dystopia – Advanced

    Advanced version of Russian and Russian Studies 201 – Revolution, Sci-Fi, Dystopia (RUSS 201).

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    RUSS 305 – Topics in Russian Literature

    Topics will vary to meet student demand and interest and might include: the Russian novel, the Silver Age, Soviet classics, Russian women writers or others.

Russian Sci-Fi and Dystopia

Russian literature is associated with deep philosophical novels and with dissident, anti-authoritarian Soviet literature. But most people do not know that Russian literature has a long tradition of science fiction as well. All three of these threads come together in the dystopian novel. The 19th century saw attempts to describe socialist utopias, which sparked an immediate reaction and started a dystopian tradition.

After 1917 visions of the future become a way of critiquing the Soviet Union and even to this day are used to comment on the problems Russia faces as it deals with its Soviet past. Readings will include works by Dostoevsky, Zamyatin, Bulgakov, Nabokov, Pelevin and Tolstaya.

  • Russian Studies

    RUSS 343 – Advanced Russian: Grammar, History, Politics

    Review of Russian grammar. Emphasis on verbal proficiency and Russian cultural/political vocabulary.

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    RUSS 351 – Selected Prose Writers

    The study in Russian of selected prose works by some of the following writers of the 19th and 20th centuries: Pushkin, Lermontov, Pavlova, Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Teffi, Chekhov, Zamyatin, Zoshchenko, Bunin, Solzhenitsyn and Tokareva.

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    RUSS 352 – Russian Poetry

    A survey in Russian of poets from the early 19th century to the present. Emphasis both on analysis and on reading/performance of poetic works.

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    RUSS 370 – Russian for the Arts, Business and Politics

    A study in Russian of the special terms, jargon and style used in specific professional fields, including the art world and museums, international business and politics. Also includes a brief survey of Russian computer terminology.

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    RUSS 384 – Women in Russian Culture – Advanced

    See Russian and Russian Studies 284 – Women in Russian Culture (RUSS 284) for course description.

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    RUSS 398 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

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    RUSS 399 – Independent Study

    Students, in consultation with the appropriate instructor, may arrange to pursue independent study on topics not covered by the regular course offerings.

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    RUSS 401 – Senior Seminar

    Integration of the student’s work in previous courses through independent work chosen with the approval of the department.

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    RUSS 402 – Senior Seminar

    Integration of the student’s work in previous courses through independent work chosen with the approval of the department.

  • Russian Studies

    RUSS 500 – Individual Research

    Open to senior majors by invitation of the department.

Anni Cecil

Professor of History; Henrietta Jennings Faculty Chair for Outstanding Teaching (2015-2020)

Tom Dolack

Visiting Assistant Professor of Russian

Francoise Rosset

Associate Professor of Russian; Chair of Russian Department

Brenda Wyss

Associate Professor of Economics; Coordinator of Development Studies