A student coming to Mount Holyoke with no background in Russian language should enroll in RES-101 and RES-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.
As listed, courses on Russian history or literature and culture may be used to satisfy the Humanities distribution requirement, while courses on Russian and Eurasian Politics satisfy the Social Science distribution requirement.
RES-101 Elementary Russian
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.
RES-102 Elementary Russian
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.
RES-201 Intermediate Russian I
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.
RES-202 Intermediate Russian II
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.
RES-301 Advanced Russian Language: From Reading to Speaking
This course aims at expansion of students' vocabulary and improvement of both writing and speaking skills. 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.
RES-302 Advanced Russian Language II
This course is a continuation of RES-301 and is a further expansion of students' vocabulary, writing and speaking skills. We will read and discuss a variety of texts including short stories, films, and articles. Heritage learners of Russian (those who speak the language) will also benefit from the course.
RES-309 Literary Translation from Russian: A Seminar Workshop
Translation practice and theory. Poetry and prose. Participants will undertake a joint project selected by the instructor, as well as texts of their own choosing. Comparative consideration of the work of published translators.
RES-210 Great Books: The Literature of Nineteenth-Century Russia
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.
RES-211 Topics in Twentieth-Century Russian Literature
Topics in Twentieth-Century Russian Literature provide students with an intensive study of major writers, themes, and paradigm shifts in Russian literature during this turbulent century.
RES-211MM Topics in Twentieth-Century Russian Literature: 'Diabolic Carnival: Bulgakov's Master and Margarita and Its Contexts'
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.
RES-213 War and Peace
We will be engaged in a close reading of a translation of Tolstoy's epic novel War and Peace. Tolstoy's sweeping account of men and women caught up in Russia's desperate struggle to survive against the onslaught of Napoleon's army is often considered among the greatest novels. We will focus on Tolstoy's literary strategies, philosophy, and historical contexts.
RES-215 Dostoevsky and the Problem of Evil: The Brothers Karamazov
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?
RES-216 Pushkin: Found in Translation
Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) is universally regarded as Russia's greatest poet. However, the magnitude of his achievement has remained inaccessible to readers who do not know Russian. That has now changed. With the renaissance in the art and practice of translation over the past several decades, much of what was previously unavailable to readers of English is now available, and it has become possible to offer this course. Participants will encounter Pushkin in three different, but intersecting ways: through a careful reading of his masterpieces, through a comparison of the renditions of various translators, and finally through responses to his work by his literary heirs.
RES-226 Philosophical Tales: The Short Fiction of Anton Chekhov
Explore the short fictions of Anton Chekhov as brilliantly crafted exemplars of the Philosophical Tale, stories that use the resources of short narrative fiction to probe life's deepest questions: "what is the meaning of our lives, how do we face our inevitable death, why is there evil and suffering, what does it mean to be human, how should we live?" How do these stories work? What can fictions do that discursive philosophical essays can't? How do they engage the complexity of the world and of life? We'll also read Chekhov's work in larger tradition of Wisdom Literature, with readings drawn from Biblical, Hassidic, Classical, Folk, and Chinese traditions, as well as from other notable practitioners of the genre (Chesterton, Borges, Poe).
RES-231FA Anna Karenina and Contexts: 'Tolstoy on Love, Death, and Family Life'
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.
RES-235 The Strange World of Nikolai Gogol
Gogol was a strange creature, but genius is always strange." - Vladimir Nabokov. Nikolai Gogol was one of Russia's greatest and most enigmatic writers. Revered by Dostoevsky, he created a literary universe that has lost none of its original power despite the passage of time. This course will trace the development of Gogol's genius from his early Ukrainian stories, through his tales of St. Petersburg, to his comic masterpiece Dead Souls. Special attention will be paid to Gogol's deployment of the comic, fantastic and grotesque to render the reality of tsarist Russia.
RES-240 Contemporary Russian Politics: From Lenin to Putin
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?
RES-244 Topics in Russian and Eurasian History
RES-244ST Topics in Russian and Eurasian History: 'Stalinism in Central Europe'
This course explores the use of revolutionary terror by the state. More specifically, it examines policies of terror pursued by Communist dictatorships in Hungary and Czechoslovakia during the early years of the Cold War. Who did what to whom, and why? What insights do secret police work and public propaganda, knitted together in macabre show trials, allow us into Stalinist rule, European politics, and maybe ourselves? How did memories of terror shape politics after Stalin's death? Students should deepen their understanding for the discipline of History, improve their reading and writing, and develop a working knowledge of Central European politics at the middle of the twentieth century.
RES-312 Silk Roads: Ancient and Modern Highways Across the Eurasian Continent
The silk roads were ancient transportation and trade links that wound their way across the Eurasian continent, or by sea through the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, to Europe. They carried silk, glass, jade, and moved religions and literatures across continents. Today, the new silk roads carry oil, gas, drugs, capitalism, and immigrants seeking better lives. We will investigate the parallels between the ancient and modern silk roads and the contemporary strategic, cultural, and economic significance of these new highways, which link China, Central Asia, the Middle East, South Asia, and Europe.