Russian Courses

RUS 101: Elementary Russian I – Professor: Amanda Ewington, For beginners. No previous knowledge of Russian required or expected. This course develops students’ basic skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing Russian. We begin with the Cyrillic alphabet and fundamental sounds and structures of Russian. As the semester progresses, students learn to communicate about culture, geography, and daily life. Thanks to a “flipped classroom” model (with the professor’s grammar lectures online), RUS 101 devotes class time to engaging interactive activities. The course requires work with audio, video, and computer exercises as well as participation in twice weekly AT sessions with a native speaker assistant.

RUS 102: Elementary Russian II – Professor: Amanda Ewington, This semester students complete the introduction to the Russian case system, while continuing to develop basic skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing about everyday Russian culture, including hobbies, shopping, restaurants, university life, holidays, and vacations. Thanks to a “flipped classroom” model (with the professor’s grammar lectures online), RUS 102 devotes class time to engaging interactive activities. The course requires work with audio, video, and computer exercises as well as participation in twice weekly AT sessions with a native speaker assistant.

RUS 199 (x5) – taken at both Middlebury College and St. Petersburg State University in Russian, intensive study of Russian grammar, syntax, academic writing, conversation, and reading comprehension of original, unadapted texts.

RUS 201: Intermediate Russian I – Professor: Roman Utkin, Continuing work in development of basic skills of Russian, with an emphasis on engaging authentic materials.

RUS 202: Intermediate Russian II – Professor: Roman Utkin, Continued instruction at the intermediate level for those who wish to continue toward advanced levels of Russian.

RUS 294: Russia & Ukraine (War and Peace) – Professor: Amanda Ewington, In 2008 Putin quipped to the U.S. president, “you must understand, George, Ukraine is not even a country.” That denial of sovereignty later took an ominous turn, with the annexation of Crimea and the ongoing violence in Eastern Ukraine. Most Westerners are perplexed by all this. Aren’t they one Slavic people? In fact, their common cultural and political heritage notwithstanding, many Ukrainians bristle at the linguistic, political, and cultural dominance of their Russian “brothers and sisters,” while many Russians view Ukrainians as part of their own “nation.” But what is meant by “nation?” Looking beyond political structures, status as a great nation was traditionally affirmed by the production of a national literary epic. In this course we will develop a nuanced appreciation for the current conflict through careful attention to each nation’s canonical war epic: Taras Bulba by Nikolai Gogol, a Ukrainian who wrote in Russian and is claimed by both nations as their own – and Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace – perhaps the most famous novel of all time, which is set in the years leading up to and during the Napoleonic invasion of Russia in 1812 and the patriotic fervor that ensued. Along the way, we will discuss a few shorter “Ukrainian tales” by Gogol, as well as Tolstoy’s early military tales, “The Sevastopol Sketches,” which were inspired by his experiences in the Crimean War

RUS 372: Nabokov and Global Literature – Professor: Roman Utkin, Vladimir Nabokov–brilliant writer, outrageous literary gamesman, and cosmopolitan exile–is a towering figure of twentieth-century literature. His most famous novel, Lolita, propelled him to international stardom and changed the transnational literary landscape. Child of a turbulent century, Nabokov wrote exquisite and at times disturbing prose in Russian and English, balancing between imaginary worlds and harsh realities. This seminar offers a sustained exploration of Nabokov’s major Russian and American writings as well as film adaptations of his Despair (Rainer Werner Fassbinder) and Lolita (Stanley Kubrick). In the second half of the seminar we turn to novels Nabokov haunts: Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, and W.G. Sebald’s The Emigrants. We will consider memory, exile, trauma, nostalgia, and identity as we read Nabokov, who saw existence as a “series of footnotes to a vast, obscure, unfinished masterpiece.”


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