Full Time Faculty: Julia Chadaga (Chair), Brian Johnson, James von Geldern
The Russian Studies program offers students an opportunity to learn one of the world’s most widely spoken languages, and to access and understand Russia, Eastern and Central Europe, and Central Asia through coursework in language, literature, culture, history, and area studies. Russia and the other members of the former Soviet Union are resurgent economic, political, and military powers with an influence felt around the world. They have a remarkable history and a culture that is as rich in experimentation and innovation as it is in tradition. The twentieth century brought not only revolution and turmoil, but also dazzling experimentation with form, content, and new ways of thinking. Yet a closer look at Russia’s history reveals centuries of such innovation, which continues to the present day. This region has produced some of the world’s most enduring and beautiful works of music, literature, art, and cinema. Our program provides pathways into discovering this region, its people, and its works. Many of the authors we teach-such as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and Nabokov -produced classics of world literature that have broadened the definition of their genres. The readings are in translation in the majority of our courses, and all students are welcome. Many of our courses are cross-listed with other departments including Art and Art History, English, History, International Studies, Linguistics, and Theater and Dance.
The Russian Studies major allows students to become proficient in spoken and written Russian, to immerse themselves in Russian literature and culture, and to develop a comprehensive understanding of historical and political contexts. The major is flexible to accommodate the complexity of the subject and our students’ diverse interests. Students can weight their major toward social sciences or the humanities, combining courses in literature and culture with courses in such fields as history, geography, political science and economics in a way that works best for them.
Our majors graduate with practical skills (e.g., writing, public speaking, research, advanced proficiency in Russian) and valuable critical, analytical, and creative thinking skills. Students typically major in Russian in preparation for careers in law, journalism, business, foreign service, marketing, public health, scientific research, ecology, translation, teaching, and graduate work in the humanities or social sciences. Russia and other post-Soviet states are dynamic and complex nations that wield global influence, and as this region continues to develop, it offers ever greater career opportunities for graduates with a knowledge of Russian.
The Russian House
Starting in their sophomore year students are eligible to live in the Macalester Russian House, where conversation with a resident native speaker and fellow students of Russian allows them to improve oral proficiency and develop increased understanding of Russian culture and society. Living in the Russian House is excellent preparation for a semester in Russia. The Russian House also hosts special events including traditional meals and hands-on cooking demonstrations, film screenings, guest speakers, student performances, and holiday celebrations.
Update regarding the Pandemic:
As a temporary matter, so long as study away is unavailable due to the consequences of Covid, our major requirement for study away is suspended. Russian Studies majors should consult with department faculty regarding alternatives that will support the linguistic, cultural, experiential, and curricular objectives of the major.
Today the opportunities to travel, study and do research in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia are better than ever. Our students may apply to programs offered by Middlebury College (Moscow, Yaroslavl, and Irkutsk), American Councils (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vladimir, or Almaty, Kazakhstan), CIEE (St. Petersburg), SRAS (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Irkutsk, as well as Ukraine and Central Asia), or other programs as approved by the department and the Center for Study Away advisors.
General Distribution Requirement
All courses in the Russian Studies department count toward the general distribution requirement in humanities except for elementary and intermediate language courses and RUSS 250 (counts for fine arts distribution).
General Education Requirements
Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and U.S. identities and differences will be posted on the Registrar’s web page in advance of registration for each semester.
Additional information regarding the general distribution requirement and the general education requirements can be found in the graduation requirements section of this catalog.
The Russian department participates in the Honors Program. Eligibility requirements, application procedures and specific project expectations for the department are available from either the department office or the Academic Programs and Advising Office.
RUSS 194 , RUSS 294 , RUSS 394 , RUSS 494
The subject matter of these courses will vary: departmental and interdisciplinary topics such as “Russian Fairy Tales and Folklore,” “Art against the State in the Communist and Post-Communist World,” and “Russian Theater.” Most topics courses are taught in English. Every year. (4 credits)
The department offers independent study options in the form of tutorials, independent projects, internships, preceptorships and Honors independent projects. For more information contact the department and review the Curriculum section of the catalog.