Selecting Courses

Department offerings concentrate on Russian language and on Russia's achievements in culture and literature. Students also take courses in Russian film, religion, and art, as well as economics, history, geography, politics, international relations, and gender studies at Mount Holyoke, and are encouraged to explore the numerous courses offered in the Five Colleges.

Detailed information on course selection, placement, and learning abroad can be found in the Russian and Eurasian Studies chapter of the catalog. Other courses can be found in the Five College Course Guide.

First-Year Students


A student coming to Mount Holyoke with no background in Russian language should enroll in Russian 101-102, a yearlong introduction to Russian language and culture. Students who have previously studied Russian and plan to elect Russian language should consult with the department for individual placement.

In addition to RES 101–102, recommended courses for first-year study include:

  • RES 210f, Great Books: Literature of 19th Century Russia
  • RES 240f,  Contemporary Russian Politics

Courses on Russian literature and culture may be used to satisfy the distribution requirement in the humanities—arts, language, and literature.

Courses on Russian history and politics satisfy distribution requirements either in the humanities (IB) or social sciences (III-A).

Spring 2017 Russian and Eurasian Courses

Elementary Russian
MWF 8:35-9:50 a.m. 
I. Kogel

Continuation of Russian 101. A four-skills course, with increasing emphasis on reading and writing, that completes the study of basic grammar. Major topics include: predicting conjugation patterns, unprefixed and prefixed verbs of motion, complex sentences, time expressions, and strategies of vocabulary building. Students watch Russian films, read and discuss authentic texts.

Intermediate Russian
MWF 1:15-2:30 p.m.
I. Kogel

Emphasis on increasing active command of grammar while focusing on conversational topics. Readings include poetry, short stories, and magazine and newspaper articles. Students watch and discuss Russian films. Classes are conducted mostly in Russian.

Topics in Twentieth Century Russian Literature: 'Diabolic Carnival: Bulgakov's Master and Margarita and Its Contexts'
MW 11-12:15 p.m.
P. Scotto

Mephistopheles in Moscow? The Gospel retold? At turns both wildly comic and metaphysically profound, Bulgakov's novel has been a cult classic since its unexpected discovery in 1967. This course will consider Bulgakov's masterpiece together with some of its literary, historical, and social contexts. Additional readings from Goethe, Gogol, E.T.A.Hoffman, Akhmatova, and others.

Dostoevsky and the Problem of Evil: the Brothers Karamazov 
TTH 11:30-12:45 p.m.
P. Scotto

Perhaps no other novelist has delved as deeply into the psychological and metaphysical dimensions of evil as the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. This course will be devoted to a close reading of Dostoevsky's landmark novel of murderous passion and parricide, The Brothers Karamazov. Why should crime and transgression be a privileged avenue of access into the human interior? How is psychology tied to the metaphysical aspect of human existence? What are the sources of evil-- and redemption?

Topics in the Recent History of Europe: 'The Cold War: Perspectives from East and West'
TTH 8:35-9:50 a.m.
C. Roeder

This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the social, cultural, and political history of both Western and Eastern Europe since 1945. By exploring the permeability of the "Iron Curtain," the course encourages students to critically assess conceptions of division and unity in European history. We will explore ways in which borders were both reinforced and transcended. Topics include the legacy of the Second World War, migration, science, the division of Germany and its re-unification, tourism and the experience of the "other," sport as a unifying culture, the power of media, social protest, transatlantic relations, and the end of the Cold War.

January Intersession Courses

History, Politics, and Culture in the Republic of Georgia

Three weeks in January
Fees: approx. $1,800 for travel and accommodation

Three weeks in the Republic of Georgia. Students will attend a series of lectures in English on historical and contemporary issues in Caucasia and will be allocated short internships according to their interests (e.g., NGOs, Parliament, hospitals, the Foreign Ministry). There will be a number of cultural excursions to historical sights with local guides. Students will stay with families and be expected to write a short report on their internship as well as a paper about some aspect of Caucasian history or politics.

Does not meet a distribution requirement; S. Jones; 2 credits

Fall 2017 - Russian and Eurasian Studies Courses

Elementary Russian
MWF 11-12:15 p.m.
S. Nazarova

The four-skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) introduction to the Russian Language with the focus on communicative skills development. Major structural topics include pronunciation and intonation, all six cases, basic conjugation patterns, and verbal aspect. By the end of the course the students will be able to initiate and sustain conversation on basic topics, write short compositions, read short authentic texts and comprehend their meaning, develop an understanding of the Russian culture through watching films and listening to songs.

Intermediate Russian
MWF 8:35-9:50 a.m.
S. Nazarova

In-depth review of grammar topics and expansion of vocabulary with the goal of developing communicative proficiency. Readings include short stories, poetry, and newspaper articles. Students watch Russian films and discuss them orally and in writing. Classes are conducted mostly in Russian.

Great Books: the Literature of Nineteenth Century Russia
MW 1:15-2:30 p.m.
P. Scotto

In no other culture has literature occupied the central role it enjoyed in nineteenth-century Russia. Political, social, and historical constraints propelled Russian writers into the roles of witness, prophet, and sage. Yet, far from being limited to the vast, dark 'Big Question' novels of legend, Russian literature offers much humor, lyricism, and fantasy. We will focus on the Russian novel as a reaction to western European forms of narrative and consider the recurring pattern of the strong heroine and the weak hero. Authors will include: Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov.

Contemporary Russian Politics: From Lenin to Putin
Tuesday 1:15-4:05
S. Jones

Russia was transformed by communist revolution into a global superpower that challenged the dominant ideologies of liberalism and nationalism. It became a powerful alternative to capitalism. In 1991, this imperial state collapsed and underwent an economic, political, and cultural revolution. What explains the Soviet Union's success for 70 years and its demise in 1991? What sort of country is Russia as it enters the twenty-first century? Is it a democracy? How has Russia's transformation affected ordinary people and Russia's relationship to the West?