Selecting Courses

The Department of Russian and Eurasian Studies offers courses in Russian ranging from the elementary level (for students with no knowledge of Russian) through advanced-level courses in Russian language and culture.  Students can also take courses in Russian Literature, taught in English. For placement in Russian language courses, the department reviews the course selection of each entering student, taking into consideration her school and AP records together with her answers to a questionnaire and the results of her online placement exam.  You may find more information about the related majors and minor in the department by consulting the Russian and Eurasian Studies section of the Bulletin and Course Catalog.

Spring 2018 Courses

Elementary Russian (RES-102)

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, un-prefixed and prefixed verbs of motion, complex sentences, time expressions, and strategies of vocabulary building. Students watch Russian films, read and discuss authentic texts.

Kogel MWF 8:35-9:50

Intermediate Russian (RES-202)

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.

Nazarova MWF 11-12:15

Topics in Twentieth-Century Russian Literature: 'Doctor Zhivago: A Poet in History' (RES-211DZ)

Combining epic sweep with lyrical intensity, Doctor Zhivago is a great writer's look back at a turbulent epoch in his country's history. Set in Russia's revolutionary years, Boris Pasternak's novel is a testament to the survival of life, love, art -- and the possibility of freedom even under the most difficult conditions. This course will situate a close reading of Pasternak's novel within the various contexts (biographical, political, literary) relevant to understanding this major, but sometimes mysterious, work of Russian fiction.

Scotto TTh 11:30-12:45

Anna Karenina and Contexts: 'Tolstoy on Love, Death, and Family Life' (RES-231)

Anna Karenina (1873) is one of a series of important works Tolstoy wrote pondering love, death, the nature of happiness, and the foundations of family life. Our reading of Anna Karenina will be the centerpiece of this course which will also include works ranging from Childhood (1852) to The Kreutzer Sonata (1889), which shocked and repelled readers with its unsparing depictions of human sexuality and murderous jealousy. Film versions of works will be screened.

Scotto MW 1:15-2:30

Russia, the West, and the Challenge of Putinism (RES-241)

Since its creation at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Soviet Union dominated the minds of Western foreign policymakers. None of the West's policies in the Middle East, the Third World, Europe, or China after World War II can be understood without the study of Soviet foreign policy. We will examine the development of Soviet foreign policy since 1917 and, following the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the role played by Russia and Russia and the former Soviet republics in the far more complex and multipolar 'New World Order.' What should U.S. policy be toward the emerging new states of the Baltics, Central Asia, and Caucasia?

Jones MW 2:40-3:55

Advanced Russian (RES-251)

This course aims at expansion of students' vocabulary and improvement of both writing and speaking skills. The course is intended for students who have completed at least four semesters of Russian or the equivalent. Heritage learners of Russian (those who speak the language) will also benefit from the course. With a strong emphasis on integrating vocabulary in context, this course aims to help students advance their lexicon and grammar, increase fluency, and overcome speaking inhibitions. We will read and discuss a variety of texts including short stories, films, and articles.

Nazarova TTh 1:15-2:30

Nationalism, Populism, and the New World Order (RES-330)

Nationalism is one of the greatest challenges to multiethnic states. They have had to create new strategies to deal with the demands of ethnic minorities. Taking the four states of Spain, Canada, Russia, and the former Yugoslavia as examples, we will focus on nationalist movements within these states and the central governments' responses. What has been the effect of the Communist legacy? Are there alternatives to federalism as a way of managing national claims? What socioeconomic policies have governments used to control ethnic tensions? What role can international organizations play in finding solutions to ethnic conflict?

Jones T 1:15-4:05



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).

The Russian and Eurasian Studies Department at Mount Holyoke is a five-college department and courses can be also taken through the Amherst College Russian DepartmentSmith College Russian DepartmentUMass Program in Slavic and East European Studies. Detailed information on course selection and placement can also be found in the Russian and Eurasian Studies chapter of the catalog. Other courses can be found in the Five College Course Guide