For information about Web accessibility, please contact the Webmaster at

Haverford College

Course Catalog

Russian at Bryn Mawr College: 2009-2010

DescriptionFacultyMajor RequirementsMinor RequirementsRequirements for HonorsCoursesDepartment Homepage


The Russian major is a multi-disciplinary program designed to provide the student with a broadly based understanding of Russian literature, thought, and culture. The major places a strong emphasis on the development of functional proficiency in the Russian language. Language study is combined with a specific area of concentration, to be selected from the fields of Russian literature, history, economics, language/linguistics, or area studies.

Back to Top


Professor Linda G. Gerstein
Professor Vladimir Kontorovich

At Bryn Mawr College
Professor Elizabeth C. Allen
Lecturer Sharon Bain, Director of the Russian Flagship Program
Professor Dan E. Davidson, Director of Russian Language Institute
Associate Professor Timothy C. Harte, Chair and Major Advisor
Instructor Olga Prokopenko
Department Assistant Billie Jo Stiner, Assistant Director of Russian Language Institute
Instructional Assistant Ekaterina Tarkhanova

Back to Top

Major Requirements

A total of 10 courses is required to complete the major: two in Russian language at the 200 level or above; four in the area of concentration, two at the 200 level and two at the 300 level or above (for the concentration in area studies, the four courses must be in four different fields); three in Russian fields outside the area of concentration; and either RUSS 398, Senior Essay, or RUSS 399, Senior Conference.

Majors are encouraged to pursue advanced language study in Russia in summer, semester or year-long academic programs. Majors may also take advantage of intensive immersion language courses offered during the summer by the Bryn Mawr Russian Language Institute. As part of the requirement for RUSS 398/399, all Russian majors take senior comprehensive examinations that cover the area of concentration and Russian language competence.


Back to Top

Minor Requirements

Students wishing to minor in Russian must complete six units at the 100 level or above, two of which must be in the Russian language.

Back to Top

Requirements for Honors

All Russian majors are considered for departmental honors at the end of their senior year. The awarding of honors is based on a student’s overall academic record and all work done in the major.

Back to Top


  • RUSS B001, B002 Elementary Russian Intensive
    Study of basic grammar and syntax. Fundamental skills in speaking, reading, writing and oral comprehension are developed. Nine hours a week including conversation sections and language laboratory work.

  • RUSS B101, B102 Intermediate Russian
    Continuing development of fundamental skills with emphasis on vocabulary expansion in speaking and writing. Readings in Russian classics and contemporary works. Seven hours a week.

    RUSS B112 The Great Questions of Russian Literature
    This course examines profound questions about the nature and purpose of human existence raised by preeminent 19th- and 20th- century Russian authors in major literary works, including Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, Chekhov's The Seagull and The Cherry Orchard, Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Tolstoy's War and Peace and Turgenev's Sketches from a Hunter's Album. Discussions address the definition of good and evil, the meaning of freedom, the role of rationality and the irrational in human behavior, and the relationship of art to life. No knowledge of Russian is required. Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS B115 The Golden Age of Russian Literature
    Introduces seminal works that formed the foundation of modern Russian literature. Examining texts in a wide range of genres, students read influential fictional works that illuminate not only Russian character, history and society but also European culture in the early nineteenth century. Considers themes like the nature of freedom, the idea of irrationality, and the complexities of moral judgment. Particular attention is paid to "play" in various forms that Dostoevsky, Gogol, Lermontov, Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Turgenev incorporated in their rapid creation of a modern literary tradition. All readings, lectures, and discussions are conducted in English.

    RUSS B201, B202 Advanced Russian
    Intensive practice in speaking and writing skills using a variety of modern texts and contemporary films and television. Emphasis on self-expression and a deeper understanding of grammar and syntax. Five hours a week.

    RUSS H211 The Soviet System and Its Demise SO (Cross-listed in Economics and Political Science)
    The Soviet system was inspired by some of the loftiest ideals of humanity. The entire society was redesigned so as to pursue common goals, rather than conflicting private objectives. The economy was run for people, not profits. The Soviet system is no more, but the ideas on which it was founded will probably always be with us. What does the largest social and economic experiment in history teach us? The course is 1/3 political science and 2/3 economics. Prerequisite: Two one-sem courses in Econ, Pols, or Hist.

    RUSS B221 The Serious Play of Pushkin and Gogol
    This course explores major contributions to the modern Russian literary tradition by its two founding fathers, Aleksander Pushkin and Nikolai Gogol. Comparing short stories, plays, novels and letters written by these pioneering artists, the course addresses Pushkin's and Gogol's shared concerns about human freedom, individual will, social injustice and artistic autonomy, which each author expressed through his own distinctive filter of humor and playfulness. No knowledge of Russian is required. Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS B223 Russian and East European Folklore
    This interdisciplinary course introduces students to major issues in Russian and East European folklore including epic tales, fairy tales, calendar and life-cycle rituals, and folk beliefs. The course also presents different theoretical approaches to the interpretation of folk texts as well as emphasizes the influence of folklore on literature, music and art. No knowledge of Russian is required.

    RUSS H225 Dostoevsky: Daydreams and Nightmares HU
    A survey of novels, novellas and short stories highlighting Dostoevsky's conception of human creativity and imagination. Texts prominently portraying dreams, fantasies, delusions and visual and aural hallucinations, as well as artists and artistic creations, permit exploration of Dostoevsky's fundamental aesthetic, psychological and moral beliefs. Readings include The Brothers Karamazov, The Double, "The Dream of a Ridiculous Man," "The Gentle Creature," The Idiot, Notes from Underground, and "White Nights."

    RUSS B235 The Social Dynamics of Russian
    An examination of the social factors that influence the language of Russian conversational speech, including contemporary Russian media (films, television and the Internet). Basic social strategies that structure a conversation are studied, as well as the implications of gender and education on the form and style of discourse. Prerequisites: RUSS 201, 202, may be taken concurrently

  • RUSS H244 Russia from 1800-1917 SO (Cross-listed in History)
    Topics considered include the culture of serfdom, Westernization, reforms, modernization, national identities, and Revolution. Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS H245 Russia in the 20th Century SO (Cross-listed in History)
    Continuity and change in Russian and Soviet society since the 1890s. Major topics: the revolutionary period, the cultural ferment of the 1920s, Stalinism, the Thaw, the culture of dissent, and the collapse of the system.

    RUSS B252 The Masterpieces of Russian and Soviet Cinema
    This course explores the major trends and most significant works of Russian and Soviet cinema. Emphasis placed on the wildly disparate phases of Soviet and Russian cinema: Russia's silent films; the innovations of the 1920s; Stalinist cinema; "thaw" films; and post-Soviet experimentation. All films shown with subtitles; no knowledge of Russian required. Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS B258 Soviet and East European Cinema of the 1960s: War, Politics and Gender Conflicts
    This course examines Soviet and Eastern European "New Wave" cinema of the 1960s, which broke new ground in world cinema through its treatment of war, politics, and aesthetics. Films from the Czechoslovakia, Poland, Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia to be viewed and analyzed include Milos Foreman's Love of a Blonde, Dushn Makavejev's W. R. Mysteries of the Organism, Andrej Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev, and Andrzej Wajda's Ashes and Diamonds. Readings on introductory film theory, film history, and the biographies of individual directors will also be discussed. All films will be shown with subtitles; no knowledge of Russian or previous study of film required.

    RUSS B261 The Russian Anti-Novel (Cross-listed as COML B261)
    A study of 19th- and 20th-century Russian novels focusing on their strategies of opposing or circumventing European literary conventions. Works by Bulgakov, Dostoevsky, Nabokov, Pushkin and Tolstoy, are compared to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and other exemplars of the Western novelistic tradition. All readings, lectures and discussions in English. Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS B277 Nabokov in Translation (Cross-listed as ENGL B277)
    A study of Vladimir Nabokov's writings in various genres, focusing on his fiction and autobiographical works. The continuity between Nabokov's Russian and English works is considered in the context of the Russian and Western literary traditions. All readings and lectures in English.

    RUSS B305, B306 Advanced Russian: Syntax and Style
    This course focuses on stylistic variations in oral and written Russian. Examples are drawn from contemporary film, television, journalism, fiction and nonfiction. Emphasis is on expansion and refinement of speaking and writing skills.

    RUSS B310 Old Russian
    This advanced undergraduate seminar introduces students to the language and literary activities of Kyivan Rus (11th-14th century). Students will gain a reading knowledge of Old Church Slavonic and Old Russian sufficient for close reading and analysis of such seminal texts as the earliest translations of the Gospels, the Primary Chronicle, Ilarion's Sermon on Law and Grace, the legend of Boris and Gleb, and others. The political and cultural background of the period will be addressed. Conducted in Russian and English. Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS B330 The Structure of Modern Russian I: Phonetics, Phonology and Morphology
    This seminar introduces advanced undergraduates and graduate students to the linguistic structure of contemporary standard Russian. Topics to be discussed include theoretical and practical issues in the description of Russian phonology, phonetics and intonation; verbal and nominal morphology; and accentuation. Conducted primarily in Russian. Followed by RUSS 331. Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS B331 The Structure of Modern Russian II: Syntax, Semantics, Pragmatics
    This seminar introduces advanced undergraduate students to the study of pragmatic norms in contemporary spoken and written Russian. Based on the understanding of language as a series of actions or communicative functions, the course will explore topics in speech act theory, politeness theory and relevance theory. Discussions will also address practical issues for the acquisition of Russian, such as cross-cultural pragmatics, interlanguage pragmatics and the teaching of foreign languages. Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS B335 Intercultural Pragmatics in Second Language Acquisition
    Examines language use in cross-cultural contexts and the acquisition of conversational Russian. Compares the linguistic structure of speech acts in Russian and English, such as requests, commands, apologies, complaints and threats and explores communication and social relationships between learners of Russian and native speakers. Other topics include the pragmatics of gender, body language and etiquette in Russian. Prerequisites: RUSS B101, B102 or equivalent. Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS B342 Russian Culture Today
    This seminar focuses on current cultural trends in Russia, with special emphasis on the interplay between various artistic media and post-Soviet Russia's rapidly developing society. Students will be introduced to contemporary Russian literature, painting, television, film and music while considering such topics as Russia's ambiguous attitude toward the West, the rise of violence in Russian society and Russia's evaluation of the past. Prerequisite: RUSS 102 or the equivalent. Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS B347 Qualitative Methods in Second Language Acquisition
    This course introduces students to qualitative research design and its application in the study of second language acquisition. Considering ethnography as a research paradigm, discussions will critique existing second language acquisition research that is conducted using qualitative methods. This class will also give students an opportunity to apply their theoretical understanding of qualitative methods to the design of their own research project. Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS H356 Topics in Modern European History SO (Cross-listed in History)
    L Gerstein
    Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS B360 Identity and Second Language Acquisition
    Introduces the concept of linguistic identity in relation to other identity facets (i. e. gender, ethnicity, class and culture) and explores ways in which acquisition of a second language affects self-conception and self-representation. Employs critical discourse analysis to discuss how second language learners construct identities through socialization into new speech communities. No knowledge of Russian is required. Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS B365 Russian and Soviet Film Culture
    This seminar explores the cultural and theoretical trends that have shaped Russian and Soviet cinema from the silent era to the present day. The focus will be on Russia's films and film theory, with discussion of the aesthetic, ideological and historical issues underscoring Russia's cinematic culture. No previous study of cinema required, although RUSS 201 or the equivalent is required. Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS B370 Acquisition of Russian as a Second Language
    This seminar introduces advanced undergraduate students to current theoretical and practical issues of Russian second-language acquisition. Topics to be discussed include formal and informal learning, measurement of competencies, standards and assessment issues, and cultural aspects of second-language acquisition. Conducted primarily in Russian. Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS B375 Language and Identity Politics of Language in Europe and Eurasia
    A brief general introduction to the study of language policy and planning with special emphasis on the Russophone world, the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. Surveys current theoretical approaches to bilingualism and language shift. Analyzes Soviet language and nationality policy using published census data for the Soviet period through 1989. Focus on the current "language situation" and policy challenges for the renewal of functioning native languages and cultures and maintenance of essential language competencies, lingua franca, both within the Russian Federation and in the "Near Abroad." Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS B380 Seminar in Russian Studies: New Developments in Contemporary Russian Language
    An examination of a focused topic in Russian literature such as a particular author, genre, theme or decade. Introduces students to close reading and detailed critical analysis of Russian literature in the original language. Readings in Russian. Some discussions and lectures in Russian. Prerequisites: RUSS 201 and one 200-level Russian literature course. Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS B390 Russian for Pre-Professionals I
    O. Prokopenko
    This capstone to the overall language course sequence is designed to develop linguistic and cultural proficiency in Russian to the "advanced level", preparing students to carry out advanced academic study or research in Russian in a professional field. Prerequisite: RUSS 305-306 or equivalent, certified proficiency levels of 2- or 2 in two skills, one of which must be oral proficiency.

  • RUSS B391 Russian for Pre-Professionals II
    Second part of year long capstone language sequence designed to develop linguistic and cultural proficiency to the "advanced level", preparing students to carry out advanced academic study or research in Russian in a professional field. Prerequisite: RUSS 390 or equivalent. Not offered in 2009-10.

    RUSS B398 Senior Essay
    E.Allen, S.Bain, D.Davidson, T.Harte
    Independent research project designed and conducted under the supervision of a departmental faculty member. May be undertaken in either fall or spring semester of senior year.)

    RUSS B399 Senior Conference
    Exploration of an interdisciplinary topic in Russian culture. Topic varies from year to year. Requirements may include short papers, oral presentations and examinations.

    RUSS B403 Supervised Work

    RUSS H480 Independent Study

Back to Top