Course Descriptions

Russian

RUSS 101 - Elementary Russian I

A structured introduction to the basics of the Russian sound system and grammar, as well as speaking, reading, writing, and comprehension. Some exposure to Russian culture. For beginning students. No prerequisites. Russian language classes (unless otherwise stated) are proficiency oriented, and aim at perfecting all four linguistic skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Intermediate and advanced courses are taught in Russian as much as possible. Most classes meet three times per week with an additional weekly class period devoted specifically to oral proficiency. These conversation classes are taught by Russian native speakers.

Frequency: Every fall.

RUSS 102 - Elementary Russian II

Continuation of RUSS 101; further development of the same skills. Russian language classes (unless otherwise stated) are proficiency oriented, and aim at perfecting all four linguistic skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Most classes meet three times per week with an additional weekly class period devoted specifically to oral proficiency. These conversation classes are taught by Russian native speakers.

Frequency: Every spring.

Prerequisite(s)

RUSS 101 with a grade of C- or better, or consent of instructor.

RUSS 151 - "Things Don't Like Me": The Material World and Why It Matters

We all have a contentious relationship with our material reality. The blankets are tangled, the roads are icy, the colors of the walls are wrong, the sun is too hot, the universe is too big. Once our basic needs are met, why do we continue to adapt, transform, and refine our physical environment? Why and how do human beings invest objects with meaning - and at what cost to others? What is the difference between persons and things, and is the distinction as clear-cut as it seems? How do the objects that surround us shape the world of ideas, emotions, and other essential aspects of human existence? Drawing upon the insights of scholars from such fields as history, literature, anthropology, visual art, architecture, and material culture studies, we will seek answers to these questions. We will read literary texts and analyze how the authors reflect as well as imagine material reality, and how they deploy concrete objects to create meaning in their work. The course will consist of mini-lectures, class discussion, oral presentations. We will meet outside of class for film screenings and a visit to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Frequency: Alternate fall semesters.

RUSS 194 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

RUSS 203 - Intermediate Russian I

In the second year of Russian, students learn to operate in basic social and cultural environments. Conversational skills needed on the telephone, public transport and other daily situations, listening and reading skills such as television, newspapers and movies, and various modes of writing are studied. Russian language classes (unless otherwise stated) are proficiency oriented, and aim at perfecting all four linguistic skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Intermediate and advanced courses are taught in Russian as much as possible. Most classes meet three times per week with an additional weekly class period devoted specifically to oral proficiency. These conversation classes are taught by Russian native speakers.

Frequency: Every fall.

Prerequisite(s)

RUSS 102 with a grade of C- or better, or consent of the instructor.

RUSS 204 - Intermediate Russian II

Continuation of RUSS 203; further development of the same skills; added emphasis on reading and discussing simple texts. Students are usually prepared for study in Russia after they have completed Intermediate Russian II. Russian language classes (unless otherwise stated) are proficiency oriented, and aim at perfecting all four linguistic skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Intermediate and advanced courses are taught in Russian as much as possible. Most classes meet three times per week with an additional weekly class period devoted specifically to oral proficiency. These conversation classes are taught by Russian native speakers.

Frequency: Every spring.

Prerequisite(s)

RUSS 203 with a grade of C- or better, or consent of instructor.

RUSS 246 - Comparative Democratization

This course focuses on theories of democratic breakdown, regime transitions, and democratization in Southern Europe, Latin America, and Post-Communist Europe. Some of the cases we will study include Pinochet's coup and Chile's return to elections, the end of the South African apartheid regime, and Russia's post-Cold War shift toward both democratic elections and new strands of authoritarianism. Building on the literatures on transitions, consolidation, civil society, and constitutional design, the course culminates in an examination of democratic impulses in Iran and the Middle East. Themes are explored through diverse teaching methods including discussion, debates, simulations, partisan narratives, lecture, film, and poetry.

Frequency: Offered every year.

Cross-Listed as

LATI 246 and POLI 246

RUSS 251 - 19th Century Russian Literature

19th-century Russian authors reflect on imperial expansion in Romantic poetry and fictions about dashing horsemen, jaded dandies, and Caucasian beauties (Pushkin, Lermontov). Realistic prose (Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Turgenev) celebrates and satirizes provincial life and glorifies the center-s power, while also showing its crushing bureaucracy, its self-destructive underground men, its poor clerks, and dens of prostitution. Writers interrogate autocracy, serfdom, incipient industrialization and women-s equality. Nihilists, Westernizers, and Slavophiles philosophize about free will, national identity, life, and death. The course concludes with Chekhov-s short stories and innovative plays. Readings include all major genres and some theory. This course is topical and themes vary depending on faculty/student interests and areas of expertise. Specific theme will be announced in advance of registration. Lectures, readings and discussions are in English.

Frequency: Alternate years.

RUSS 252 - Experiments in Living: 20th Century Russian Literature and Culture

In the twentieth century, political and artistic revolutions in Russia had repercussions far beyond its borders; we can still feel the effects to this day. How do artists respond to and shape historical events? How did writers in twentieth-century Russia transmute fear, violence, and chaos into art? In this course we will consider novels, stories, and poems, as well as paintings, music, and film reflecting upon the Bolshevik revolution, the Stalinist terror, World War II, the Thaw, {i}glasnost{ei} and {i}perestroika{ei}, and the turmoil of the post-Soviet era. We will become acquainted with major artistic trends including Symbolism, Futurism, and Socialist Realism; and observe how in each case, matters of style went hand in hand with the desire to change the world. Our readings will convey the fantastic schemes of the utopian thinkers at the turn of the century; artists' responses to and participation in the political, scientific, and sexual experimentation of their time; and the survival of creative expression in the midst of unimaginable hardships. We will discover how and why some cultural figures chose to serve, and others to resist, the state, and what fate had in store for them. We will learn how provocateurs and innovators such as Mayakovsky, Akhmatova, Babel, Zoshchenko, Bulgakov, Solzhenitsyn, Brodsky, Pelevin, and Tolstaya explored the relationship between art and ideology, exile and creativity, laughter and subversion, memory and survival, individual psychology and historical cataclysm. All reading will be in English.

Frequency: Offered in alternate years.

RUSS 255 - Fierce and Beautiful World: Russian Culture Before the Revolution

Like the legendary knight Ilya Muromets who lay still for decades, then arose and stunned the world with mighty feats, Russia is a force to be reckoned with again. In 2007, Vladimir Putin was Time Magazine's Person of the Year. What do we know about his country, and about the people who chose him as their leader? When you think of Russia, what comes to mind? Slender birch trees or brutish bears? Do you imagine soulful wonder-working icons, finely-wrought samovars, onion-domed cathedrals, opulent palaces, folkloric lacquer boxes, whimsical nesting dolls, delicious pastries, delicate ballet dancers? Or do you picture revolutionary nihilists, vodka-soused ruffians, tyrannical tsars, masters flogging serfs, or a troika racing at breakneck speed toward an unknown destination? Only a country so vast could accommodate such contradictions. Studying Russian culture offers a way to confront the paradoxes of the human condition, in particular, the opposing yet complementary drives to create and to destroy. The great poet Tyutchev declared that "you cannot understand Russia with your mind." In this course we'll take his cue and approach Russia through the senses. Russian culture offers a feast for the eyes, in visual art from icons to popular prints, the work of realist painters and the pioneers of abstract art; decorative art from wood carving to Faberge eggs; churches built without nails and palaces made of ice; boisterous folk dances and the Ballets Russes. Sound, too, plays a major role in Russian culture, from church bells to balalaikas, bawdy chastushkas to Tchaikovsky. We'll discover the cultural significance of tea-drinking, traditional foods, and most of all, alcohol. We will consider the ways in which Russian art and ideas made an indelible impression on world culture. As we examine case studies from medieval times through the end of the tsarist period, we will ask such "burning questions" as: why does art have such a privileged status in Russian society? What exactly is the Russian soul? What is Russia's relationship to the West: does it belong to Europe, to Asia, or does it possess a unique essence and destiny? Russia embraces its duality, and this may account, in part, for the distinctiveness and the vitality of Russian culture. All readings will be in English.

Frequency: Alternate years.

RUSS 256 - Mass Culture Under Communism

Revolution to the fall of communism. For each period in Soviet history, changes in the production and consumption of culture will be considered with specific examples to be discussed. Topics dealt with in the course include the role of mass media in society, popular participation in "totalitarian" societies, culture as a political tool. Popular films, newspapers and magazines, songs, radio and TV programs, etc., will serve to analyze the policies that inspired them and the popular reactions (both loyal and dissenting) they evoked. Taught in English.

Frequency: Alternate years.

RUSS 257 - Tolstoy's War and Peace

In 1851, a dropout from the university, Lev Tolstoy volunteered to serve in the Caucasus, where he also launched his writing career. Later he examined Napoleon's war with Russia in War and Peace , while gradually gaining fame for his stance against imperialist wars and violence. His doctrine of non-resistance against evil was to inspire his last piece of war writing, Hadji Murad as well as other thinkers from Gandhi to Martin Luther King. Though most of the semester will be devoted to the "non-novel," "loose baggy monster," War and Peace we interrogate it in the context of Tolstoy's evolving ideas and 19th century Russia and Europe. We conclude with a close reading of Hadji Murad , Harold Bloom's "personal touchstone for the sublime prose fiction." While pondering Tolstoy and Russia, students are introduced to various critical approaches to literature and various reactions to Tolstoy both on page and on stage. In English. Lectures, discussion, writing, and oral presentations.

Frequency: Alternate years, fall semester.

RUSS 261 - Making History: Russian Cinema as Testimony, Propaganda, and Art

Through the study of Russian films starting from the silent era up to the present day, the course will explore how storytelling in cinema differs from professional history and fiction, as well as how power relations, technology, and aesthetics shaped cinematic depictions of major historical events in Russia and the Soviet Union, from medieval times to post-Soviet era. Students will view and analyze films that are among the essential Russian contributions to world cinema, by directors including Eisenstein, Tarkovsky, Mikhalkov, and Sokurov. Course readings will draw upon film theory, history, fiction, and memoirs. We will use our readings to create a conceptual framework for examining the films as documents of real events, as vehicles of propaganda, and as imaginative works of art. In addition to attending weekly film screenings and discussing the films and readings in class, students will give presentations on topics of their choice arranged in consultation with the instructors. Two professors will teach the course jointly, one a historian of Russia and the other a specialist in Russian literature and visual culture.

Frequency: Alternate spring semesters.

Cross-Listed as

HIST 261

RUSS 265 - Translation as Cross-Cultural Communication

When communication takes place across language barriers, it raises fundamental questions about meaning, style, power relationships, and traditions. This course treats literary translation as a particularly complex form of cross-cultural interaction. Students will work on their own translations of prose or poetry while considering broader questions of translation, through critiques of existing translations, close comparisons of variant translations, and readings on cultural and theoretical aspects of literary translation.

Prerequisite(s)

Advanced proficiency in a second language required.

RUSS 270 - Wrongdoing in Russian Literature

The Russian word for crime literally means "overstepping," in the sense of crossing a boundary. What happens, however, when that boundary shifts, as it did in the twentieth century with the Bolshevik Revolution? Or what if the society that defines the criminal is itself "wrong"? Throughout its history, Russian literature has returned almost obsessively to the theme of transgression. We will take a cross-cultural approach as we juxtapose Russian texts with those from other literary traditions, bringing out a similar and contrasting views of wrongdoing in Russian culture and that of "the West" against which Russia has traditionally defined itself. Readings will introduce course participants to an intellectual axe murderer, a malicious barber, a female serial killer, demonic hooligans, men pushed over the edge by classical music, and others on the wrong side of the law. Central to the course will be the question of how fiction writers present crime and how their artistic choices influence the way readers think of such seemingly self-evident oppositions as good and evil, right and wrong. We will address such themes as: the motives for and the moment of crossing over into crime; the detective as close reader/the criminal act as a work of art; gender and violence; crimes of writing; the (in)justice of punishment and the spectacle of state power. We will explore St. Paul's "underworld" history and how it has been reinvented as a tourist attraction. Students will be encouraged to apply ideas arising from our readings to current events, studying the means by which contemporary instances of wrongdoing (and the trials intended to make things right) are represented in the mass media, and analyzing how true-life stories are turned into allegory and myth.

Frequency: Offered every other year.

RUSS 272 - The Post-Soviet Sphere

The USSR's 1991 dissolution ended one of history's great experiments. Socialism sought to dissolve ethnicity and overcome ethnic conflict with a focus on equality. Instead it exacerbated nationalism and created-separated identities. But how? Topics include ethno-creation, control, and resistance; ethnic animosities and the USSR's destruction; new states after 1991; "diaspora" populations beyond ethnic homelands; local rebellions; new "native" dictatorships; and recent international organizations. .

Cross-Listed as

INTL 272

RUSS 294 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

RUSS 363 - Orientalism and Empire: Russia's Literary South

Since the 18th century to the recent wars with Chechnya, contradictory views of Russian empire building have been reflected in Russian literature. Students first explore recurring Russian ideas of empire, such as "Moscow the Third Rome," and "Eurasianism," as well as the constructs of East/West as factors in Russian identity thinking. The course focuses on the Caucasus region, Russia's "Oriental" south, starting with a brief history of imperial expansion into the area and concentrating on its literary expression in travelogues, Classicist and Romantic poetry, Oriental tales, short stories, and novels. We will ponder general "orientalist" imagery and stereotyping (the noble savage, the brave tribesman, the free-spirited Cossack, the sensual woman, the imperial nobleman/peasant, the government functionary, and "virgin" territory) together with ideas of nation and identity based on this specific region. We will read classics of Russian literature (Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, Tsvetaeva), but also lesser known authors, some justly and others unjustly forgotten by the canon (Osnobishin, Elena Gan, Iakubovich, Rostopchina). We will supplement our literary readings with a variety of critical and historical texts, as well as films. In English.

Frequency: Alternate years.

RUSS 364 - Culture and Revolution

This course examines the relationship between cultural and political change during four very different revolutions: in France of 1789, in Russia of 1917, and the more recent events in Iran and South Africa. How do people change when governments are overturned? How do revolutions shape the consciousness of their citizens? Do people understand events as revolutionaries intend them to? To answer these questions, we will examine symbols and political ideologies, mass media outreach, education and enlistment, changing social identities, the culture of violence, popular participation and resistance, as well as other issues. Readings will include such diverse sources as Voltaire and Rousseau, Marx and Lenin, Khomeini and the Koran. We will read contemporary accounts, both sympathetic and antagonistic, and look at popular culture to see how events were understood. Fashion and etiquette, comics and caricatures, movies and plays are among the materials used. Taught in English.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Cross-Listed as

INTL 364

RUSS 366 - Nabokov

There is a risk in studying Vladimir Nabokov, as those who have can attest. At first, you find he is an author who understands the simple pleasures of the novel. He crafts wondrously strange stories—often detective stories—in language often so arresting you may find yourself wanting to read passages aloud to passers-by. Then, you may discover within the novel little hints, here and there, of a hidden structure of motifs. The hints are in the synaesthetic colors of sound, in the patterns on the wings of butterflies, in the tremble of first love, in shadows and reflections, in the etymologies of words. Soon the reader has become a detective as well, linking the recurring motifs, finding clues are everywhere. By then it is too late. The risk in studying Nabokov is that you may not see the world the same way again.

Nabokov's life is itself remarkable. He was born into Russian nobility, but fled with his family to Western Europe after the 1917 Revolution. His father took a bullet intended for another. After his education in England, Nabokov moved to Berlin, and then to Paris, where advancing Nazi troops triggered another flight, this time to the United States. He was not only an accomplished poet, novelist, and translator, but also a lepidopterist. Nabokov found and conveyed both the precision of poetry and the excitement of discovery in his art, scientific work, and life.

In this course, we will read a representative selection of both his Russian (in translation) and English language novels, including Lolita and Pale Fire, two of the finest novels of the twentieth century. We will explore various aspects of Nabokov's life and art in order to arrive at a fuller understanding of how cultural synthesis inspires artistic creation.

 

Frequency: Alternate years, spring semester.

Prerequisite(s)

One prior English course numbered in the 100s.

Cross-Listed as

ENGL 366

RUSS 367 - Dostoevsky and Gogol

Dostoevsky has had a major impact on writers and thinkers from Nietzsche to Coetzee. He himself paid tribute to Gogol's fantastic imagination. Course readings will range from the absurdist ravings of Gogol's madmen to the existential dilemmas of Dostoevsky's murderers. Discussions will cover the haunted and haunting city of Petersburg, saints, prostitutes, and infernal women, holy fools and Russian Orthodoxy, as well as critical views ranging from Russian Formalists to Freud to Bakhtin's ideas of dialogical speech. Students will explore major 19th century philosophical and cultural currents and a variety of literary movements and genres, and we will also see how our authors have been represented in other media, such as film and painting. From Gogol's Ukrainian and Petersburg tales and Dead Souls, the readings move to Dostoevsky's early humorous works, his major novels, and the course concludes with The Brothers Karamazov. In English.

Frequency: Alternate years.

RUSS 394 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

RUSS 488 - Senior Seminar

Seminars on selected topics in Russian language, literature, or culture, designed to serve as an integrative capstone experience for majors. Recent topics are "Investigating Russian Web and Press," "The Contemporary Short Story," and "Forbidden Art and the Performance of Dissent." Conducted in Russian. Since the topic changes from year to year, we recommend that sufficiently advanced students repeat this course.

Frequency: Every spring.

Prerequisite(s)

three years of Russian (RUSS 204, followed by a semester abroad) or approval of instructor.

RUSS 494 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

RUSS 601 - Tutorial

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

RUSS 602 - Tutorial

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

RUSS 603 - Tutorial

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

RUSS 604 - Tutorial

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

RUSS 611 - Independent Project

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

RUSS 612 - Independent Project

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

RUSS 613 - Independent Project

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

RUSS 614 - Independent Project

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

RUSS 621 - Internship

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

RUSS 622 - Internship

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

RUSS 623 - Internship

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

RUSS 624 - Internship

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Internship Office.

RUSS 631 - Preceptorship

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

RUSS 632 - Preceptorship

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

RUSS 633 - Preceptorship

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

RUSS 634 - Preceptorship

Limit to be applied toward the major will be determined in consultation with the department.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor. Work with Academic Programs.

RUSS 641 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

RUSS 642 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

RUSS 643 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

RUSS 644 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.