Full Time Faculty: Julia Chadaga, Gitta Hammarberg, James von Geldern (Co-chair of German and Russian Studies)
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 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 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 English, History, International Studies, and the Humanities and Media and Cultural Studies departments.
The Russian Studies major allows students to become proficient in conversational 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 area studies or the humanities, and still be able to take complementary courses in such fields as history, geography, political science, and economics.
Our majors graduate with practical skills (e.g., writing, public speaking, research) 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 the other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States are dynamic and complex nations with rapidly growing economies, and as this region continues to develop, it offers ever greater career opportunities for graduates with knowledge of Russian.
The Russian House
Students compete for the privilege of living 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 dinners, film screenings, guest speakers, student performances, and holiday celebrations.
Today the opportunities to travel, study and do research in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe are better than ever. After 1–2 years of language study, our students may apply to programs offered by Middlebury College (in Moscow, Yaroslavl, and Irkutsk), the School for International Training (in St. Petersburg), or other programs as approved by the department and the International Center study abroad advisors.
General Distribution Requirement
All Russian courses count toward the general distribution requirement in humanities.
General Education Requirements
Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and multiculturalism 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.
Policy on Russian Language Grades
In order to be accepted into the next higher Russian language course in the sequence, a student must have received a grade of C– or higher in the previous course. For additional information regarding the language requirement, see the College requirements.
The Russian department participates in the Honors Program. Eligibility requirements, application procedures and specific project expectations for the Russian department are available either from the department office or the Director of Academic Programs.
RUSS 194, RUSS 294, RUSS 394, RUSS 494
The subject matter of these courses will vary: departmental and interdisciplinary topics such as “Things Don’t Like Me: The Material World and Why It Matters” and “Making History: Russian Cinema as Testimony, Propaganda, and Art.” 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.