May 26, 2024  
Course Catalog 2017-2018 
Course Catalog 2017-2018 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Russian Language, Literature and Culture

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Arlene Forman, Associate Professor, Department Chair
Thomas Newlin, Associate Professor
Tim Scholl, Professor
Maia Solovieva, Lecturer, Faculty-in-Residence

The Department of Russian Language, Literature, and Culture offers a wide range of distinctive courses, both in Russian and in translation, for majors and non-majors alike. The study of Russian culture is extended beyond the classroom through a host of Russian-related events on campus.

Through our multi-year sequence of language courses students can gain extensive training in speaking, reading, and writing Russian, and develop a working understanding of Russian culture. We place a strong emphasis on building functional communicative skills so that students acquire the linguistic and cultural tools necessary to live, study, and do research in Russia. Classes are regularly divided into small conversation groups to promote greater oral proficiency.

Our interdisciplinary course offerings in literature, cinema, and culture (both in Russian and in translation) enable students to investigate significant works and periods in a way that hones their critical skills. Students especially interested in the interconnections between culture, history, and politics should consider the Russian and East European Studies Program.


Incoming students with previous training in Russian should take the Placement Test to determine the appropriate level to continue studying Russian. Students beginning at Oberlin should note course sequences, some of which are prerequisite to the advanced level and the major. Participation in a Russian study abroad program is highly recommended, as is residency in Russian House. 

Suggested Course Sequence

New students considering a major should take a Russian language course in their first semester. New students with or without previous training are encouraged to take related courses in translation, such as Russian literature, culture, history or politics, during their first year. 

Study Abroad

The department strongly encourages all students interested in Russian to spend a semester, year, or summer abroad. Students can apply to a number of Oberlin-affiliated programs in Russia, including the Bard-Smolny program in St. Petersburg,  the Middlebury College programs in Moscow, Yaroslavl, and Irkutsk; and the American Council of Teachers of Russian programs in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Vladimir. Some programs, including the one offered jointly by the Moscow Institute of Social and Political Studies and the International University of Moscow, accept students without previous language training. Students interested in drama can participate in the Moscow Art Theater program, sponsored by the National Theater Institute. For further information on these and other programs, contact Ms. Forman, Mr. Newlin, Mr. Scholl or Ms. Solovieva. 

Students on financial aid should consult the Director of Financial Aid before planning to participate in any of the aforementioned programs.

Russian Language Major

Two majors are offered. A basic knowledge of the Russian language is fundamental to both.

Courses awarded a final grade below C- or P will not count toward either major.

1. The Russian Major    

To major in Russian, students must complete third-year (advanced) Russian and a minimum of five full courses in Russian literature and culture. Two courses in Russian literature in translation are required, as are two courses offered in the original language (including the senior seminar). Normally, credit for the equivalent of two courses may be awarded for off-campus study at an accredited American university or appropriate abroad program in St. Petersburg, Moscow or other Russian cities. Four courses applied toward the major must be taken at Oberlin College. Private reading courses, as a rule, do not apply to this category. Related coursework in Russian History, Politics, Sociology, History of Theater, Dance, or Music are strongly recommended.

The Russian and East European Studies Major

The Russian and East European Studies Major has a multidisciplinary focus, combining courses in language, literature, history, politics, and sociology. The major is administered by the Russian Department in consultation with the Russian and East European Studies Curricular Committee. For further details consult “Russian and East European Studies ” in this catalog.


Russian majors should seriously consider the possibility of participating in the departmental Honors Program. Students will be accepted into the program by invitation. Criteria for admission normally include the following: overall GPA of at least 3.25; major GPA of at least 3.50 by the beginning of the sixth semester; completion of Russian 305, or 306 and at least one literature course in translation by the end of the sixth semester.


Courses in which a student has earned a letter grade lower than a C- or P cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of the minor. 

To minor in Russian a student must complete two semesters of Intermediate Russian and an additional four full courses dealing with Russian literature and culture (cinema, art, theater).  At least two courses in this second category must be taken at Oberlin.  Students planning to study on a program in Russia should consult the Russian staff for a preliminary interpretation of such work in terms of Oberlin credit.

Russian House

Students who wish to pursue their Russian experience intensively are strongly encouraged to take up residence in Russian House, a small coeducational facility housing 15 students and the focal point for most campus Russian language and cultural activities. Native speakers of Russian are regularly in residence. Majors as well as those with a peripheral interest in Russian are encouraged to live in the Russian House.

Winter Term

Intensive Beginning Russian is offered each year during Winter Term. Students who successfully complete this course can enroll in Russian 102. Faculty are available to sponsor Winter Term projects in the following areas: 19th- and 20th-century Russian literature, literature and the environment, Russian film, Russian theater and dance, translation. Occasionally, the Russian program sponsors a study tour to Russia (two weeks, visiting Moscow and St. Petersburg). The cost of the program is supported by the individual student participants. Additional information may be obtained from the Russian faculty.


Created in 1998 through support from the Clowes Fund, Inc. and a private donation, the Oberlin Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies is designed to promote greater awareness of the region in the Oberlin community. The Center seeks to foster the development of new curricula and to expand summer and post-graduation internship, community service, study abroad, and employment opportunities for students.  OCREECAS sponsors a variety of internship opportunities in Russian, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia and seeks to enhance the Oberlin curriculum through on-campus residencies by visiting scholars and artists.

OCREECAS Internships

Qualified juniors, seniors and recent graduates interested in working in a service or non-profit capacity in Russia, Eastern Europe or Central Asia are encouraged to apply for OCREECAS grants-in-aid. For further information contact Ms. Solovieva.

II. Topics in Translation

B. Topical and Survey Courses

Courses in translation have no prerequisites. 300-level courses generally have a more substantial research component or a heavier reading load than 200-level courses. Students uncertain about their preparedness for a given course should consult with the professor. Note that these courses are not offered every year, and that listings for courses offered beyond 2016-2017 are provisional and in some cases may change.

III. Advanced Courses (Taught in Russian)

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