Available as either a stand-alone major or as part of a joint disciplinary area of concentration, our Russian AOC features both the challenging curriculum and individualized attention from faculty that you would expect from one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges. Through small classes and seminars, individual and group tutorials, and independent study projects (ISPs), you will have the chance to explore Russian language, literature and culture in depth with native speaking faculty and others who are experts in the field.
Whether in literature, music, science, economics or international affairs, it is difficult to overstate the importance of Russia, the world’s largest country in terms of geography. From Dostoevsky to Nabokov, Tchaikovsky to Shostakovich, Pavlov to Mendeleev, and Bakunin to Gorbachev, Russian culture and politics transformed world history throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and this seminal influence continues today.
Whether chosen as a stand-alone major, combined with another discipline as a “slash” area of concentration, or taken simply as a foreign language option, our Russian Language and Literature AOC will introduce you to the rich culture and history that this country of about 100 million people have to offer.
This small but intellectually challenging program offers both Russian language courses from beginning to advanced for those who want to gain mastery of this important Indo-European language, and literature courses taught in English translation, accessible to non-majors. Small group and individual tutorials on a variety of Russian and Slavic topics supplement our formalized course offerings.
Courses and seminars offered on a regular basis include language instruction from the elementary to the advanced level and a reasonably wide range of topics in 19th and 20th century Russian literature, including monograph courses on Dostoevsky, Nabokov and other world-famous authors, and surveys, such as “Russian Short Stories in Translation” and “Russian Realism.” In fact, because of our faculty’s strength in the area, literature is typically a major academic component of any Russian AOC. Recent small group tutorials and ISPs include “Readings in Gulag Literature,” “Gogol and the Visual Arts,” “Russian Word Formation” and “A Film Adaptation of Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading.”
In recent years, students within our program, as well as those who were simply studying Russian as part of their overall New College curriculum, have won a number of major national and international fellowships, including two Fulbright Scholarships, a Kremlin Fellowship and two Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships. Common career paths among our graduates in the program include foreign service, education, translation and law.
To foster greater cross-cultural understanding, students who choose to pursue Russian as a stand-alone major are encouraged to pursue a semester abroad through one of the many available programs of language and cultural study in Russia or through off-campus study at another institution.
Our students must complete seven contracts, three Independent Study Projects and a senior thesis project to graduate. Contracts consist of three to five academic activities — courses, tutorials, internships, independent reading projects, etc. — that will develop your personal educational goals during a semester.
Here’s a list of recent course offerings in Russian:
Beginning Russian I
This course will focus on the basics of Russian grammar and syntax, and it is envisioned as the first component of a four semester Beginning/ Intermediate sequence. It is designed for students with a serious and confirmed interest in the language. Although Russian is not as daunting as many assume and as it might first appear to the uninitiated, even early mastery of materials in the text will require real commitment on the part of the student. Faithful class attendance and consistent, conscientious preparation of assignments will be essential. We will be using Golosa, Book 1, which stresses active use of the written and spoken language. Handouts and other materials will be included to supplement the book and to make the learning process exciting and rewarding. Interactive assignments, games and a final project will be part of this introductory course. The course is open to all interested students.
Beginning Russian II
A continuation of Beginning Russian I.
Intermediate Russian I
This course is the third component in the four-semester Beginning-Intermediate language sequence. We will use Golosa Book 2 as our primary text with supplementary materials from the BBC Russkaya sluzhba and other online news and cultural sources. As in the past, our goal will be increased facility in reading Russian and greater fluency in oral and written expression. Students who have completed at least two semesters of college-level work in Russian at another institution are welcome to enroll, but prior consultation with the instructor is strongly advised.
Intermediate Russian II
Intermediate Russian II is the last part of the four semester Russian language sequence designed for university level students. The purpose of this course is to prepare students with prior knowledge of basic Russian grammar to interact in Russian in various communicative situations, to continue developing writing skills and to read adapted Russian texts. We will focus on expanding vocabulary, using more sophisticated syntax and tackling increasingly challenging grammar problems. Because speaking is an essential part of the language learning process, attendance and class participation will be extremely important, as we learn to produce idiomatically correct Russian. We will work with Golosa, Book 2 and use games, role-play and other interactive activities to make language learning enjoyable and effective. At the end of the semester several days will be devoted to a final project. Students will work in small groups to present a skit or a mini-show in Russian using the material covered in this class in a creative way. Students who have completed at least three semesters of college-level work in Russian at another institution are welcome to enroll, but prior consultation with the instructor is strongly advised.
The Brothers Karamazov: A Seminar
An in-depth examination of Dostoevsky’s last novel from a variety of literary and extra-literary perspectives. The seminar will include both a close reading of Dostoevsky’s text and consideration of a wide range of relevant critical, literary-historical, theological, and socio-political sources. Recommended for students with previous college-level experience in the study of literature and literary theory. Each student will be responsible for leading two forty-minute discussions, one devoted to a section of the text, the other focusing on one or another of the contextual areas suggested above. Not for the faint of heart.
Dostoevsky: The Major Novels
Perhaps the most polarizing of Russian writers, Dostoevsky challenges and provokes his readers with deeply unsettling questions dramatized by his characters. Can we ever gain adequate understanding of another mind? What kind of spirituality (and morality) is possible in today’s increasingly secular societies? Is the God of today’s unjust, suffering world ethically acceptable? How can the ideals of neighborly love and individual freedom survive and remain relevant in the face of unspeakable violence and the rise of totalitarian ideologies? We will engage with these questions and place them in the context of both, 19th century intellectual debates and contemporary philosophical discussions. The course offers a close examination of four major novels, Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot andThe Brothers Karamazov, as well as some of Dostoevsky’s short fiction. Secondary readings may include excerpts from relevant works in Russian and European philosophy and examples of several critical approaches to Dostoevsky’s oeuvre. All readings are in English.
Nabokov’s Early Novels: Resident and Stranger
The course examines the early fiction of the acclaimed and controversial Russian-American author Vladimir Nabokov. We will focus on the Russian period of Nabokov’s oeuvre, discussing five major texts produced by the author in European exile roughly between 1925 and 1938: Mary, The Eye, Despair, Invitation to a Beheading and The Gift. We will attempt to assess Nabokov’s place in the history of European modernism as well as his complex and often uneasy relationship with the Russian literary tradition. In addition to the primary texts, the students will be introduced to relevant secondary literature representing various critical approaches to Nabokov. All readings will be available in English translation.
Readings in Russian: Language and Verbal Art (A)
In this fifth-semester language offering, students will have the opportunity to read both short fiction and poetry in Russian. As envisioned, the course will be divided into two modules. During the first module we will read and discuss, in Russian to the extent possible, short stories by Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Chekhov. The second module will be devoted to an examination of selected poetry from Romanticism to Acmeism (a period of approximately one hundred years), including work by Pushkin, Lermontov, Tyutchev, Fet, Bryusov, Bely, Blok, and Akhmatova. Students may choose to enroll in either or both of the modules. This course has been designed for student who have completed four semesters of Russian language study at New College or the equivalent at other colleges or in travel study programs. Native speakers and heritage speakers of Russian may find this course of interest as well; their participation will be especially welcome. We will meet twice per week; one short essay in Russian will be required for each module. All qualified students are encouraged to enroll.
In Russian literature the second half of the nineteenth century produced prosaic and dramatic works of unsurpassed emotional and psychological depth. Largely classified under the rubric of “realism,” the writers of the period created literary oeuvre vastly different in its philosophical outlook, style and artistic technique. The goal of this course is to arrive at more precise meanings of “critical realism,” “psychological realism” and “fantastic realism” in nineteenth century Russian literature through the analysis of works by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Leskov, Alexander Ostrovsky, Chekhov and others. Lectures, discussion questions and relevant secondary readings will illuminate the historical development of 19th century Russian literature, centering on its most celebrated, “golden” period. All texts will be available in translation.
The Russian Short Story
The Russian short story is not only one of the most fascinating and challenging genres in the Russian literary tradition–it is also one of the most exciting and vibrant genres today. Although smaller in scope and shorter in length than the novel, the short story succeeds in raising no less fundamental moral, political, and philosophical issues and can serve as an excellent introduction to Russian literature and culture. This introductory course is designed to foster a deeper understanding of Russian literary currents from the 19th century to the present by focusing on aesthetic, ethical and sociological aspects of storytelling. We will read and discuss the nineteenth-century masterpieces of Pushkin, Gogol, Lermontov, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy as well as some of the best short stories written in the twentieth century and during the post-Soviet era, from Daniil Kharms to Ludmila Ulitskaya. Throughout, we will pay particular attention to formal matters like narrative structure, style, symbols and themes, and we will make every effort to put these works in their historical context. All readings are offered in English translations.
Tolstoy and Chekhov
This course will be devoted to a comparative study of selected short stories and short novels by L.N. Tolstoy and A.P. Chekhov. We will examine, among other works, Tolstoy’s The Cossacks (1862), The Death of Ivan Il’ich (1886), and The Kreutzer Sonata (1889) and Chekhov’s The Duel (1891), Ward #6 (1892) and Peasants (1897). This will be a lecture and discussion course; two brief analytical essays will be required. Limited to 15 students. Consistent participation in class discussions will be required for satisfactory evaluation.
Women in Russian Literature: 1780s-1990s
This course examines genres, themes and styles of writing popular among Russian women readers and writers from the late 18th to the 20th century. We will study renowned female authors, such as Anna Akhmatova and Marina Tsvetaeva, and the lesser known figures, examining women’s self-perception and self-representation within the context of relevant literary movements. To situate women’s literary self-expression within a broad cultural tradition we will also consider the images of women in several canonical texts by male authors. Course topics include women’s memoir at the age of Enlightenment; women as readers and writers of high society tales in the 1830s; gender roles and radical politics in the 1860s; Tolstoy and the debate on sexual morality; decadent art in the 1900s; the woman question and the revolution; women writers as chroniclers of Stalin’s terror, the siege of Leningrad and the Chernobyl disaster. We will also discuss the shifting Soviet and post-Soviet perceptions of gender and sexuality as registered in the works of Grekova, Petrushevskaya and Tolstaya. All readings are in English.
For a complete list of courses, click here.
Although a major in Political Science and Economics, Danielle Korngold used her experience taking Russian Language and Literature classes and working as a Russian language TA at New College to earn a Fulbright Scholarship in 2011 to teach English in Russia after graduation. Korngold used an eclectic mix of American music, TV and film to teach students vocabulary, pronunciation, and listening skills and to familiarize them with regional differences in American culture, government and history. Korngold’s interest in Russian was first sparked because her great-grandparents emigrated from Russia in the 1910s.
New College is proud of our many students who have studied Russian Language and Literature. Here’s a sampling of what some of them are up to today:
Sample of Graduate Schools Attended by NCF Students in Russian Language & Literature
Each academic experience builds toward your senior thesis project. It is required for graduation, and our students tell us that while it is demanding, it is also one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. Here are some thesis projects in Russian Language & Literature:
“Authority and Authorship: The Plight of the Artist in Vladimir Nabokov’s Despair and Invitation to a Beheading” by Samantha Hannah
“Gogol’s ‘Shinel’ in English: A Commentary and Translation” by Morgan Shafter
“Reading and Writing in Invitation to a Beheading” by Lily Carbone
“‘You always see something, but you never see all’: Narrative Devices and the Reader’s Role in James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Andrey Bely’s Kotik Letaev” by Jacqueline Aldrich
“Schillerian Ideals in The Robbers and in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment” by Daniela Rizzo
“The New Capitalism: Cultural Transitions Seen in the Works of Victor Pelevin” by Jesse Brown O’Dell
“Between Two Worlds: Internalized Anti-Semitism in Isaac Babel’s Short Fiction” by Melissa Yael Jacobowitz
“Something Borrowed, Something New: Traditions, Cliches, and Symbolism in Igor Stravinsky’s Les Noces” by Chelsea Evangeline Famiglio
“A Dark, Constraining Silence: The Relationship between Writing and Identity in Selected Works of Ludmila Petrushevskaya and Anna Akhmatova’s Requiem” by Benjamin Estes
“Dream Sequences and Subjective Reality in Two Short Stories by Victor Pelevin” by Jeffrey Riggs
“Children’s Pronoun Case Overextentions in Russian” by Alexandra V. Hartman
“International Trafficking of Russian Women for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation” by Rebecca Schaaf
“A Translation of Dina Rubina’s Kamera Naezzhaet and Critical Essays” by KellySinger
“What is to Be Done? The Question Revisited” by Todd Allen
“A Quest for Proximity: Dismantling the Barriers Surrounding Joseph Brodsky’s Russian Verse” by J. Martin Daughtry
“The Failed Russification of Soviet Central Asia: A Study in Cultural Manipulation” by Maria Fernandez
“The Poet and the Muse by Leonid Vinogradov: Translation and Production” by John Wesley Hill
“Green Girls and their Men (poems) and The Poetry of Boris Pasternak, an essay with translations” by Karen Volkman
“By Mutual Correspondence” by Laura Dane Johnston
“The Two Comrades, a Translation by Christian Williamson of the Povest’, Dva Tovarisca, by Vladimir Voinovich” by Christian Williamson
“The City as a Setting: Paris and St. Petersburg (A Comparative Study of Balzac and Dostoevsky)” by Claire M. Batutis
“Original Translations with a Comparative Survey Dealing with Four Translations of Selected Passages of Dostoevsky’s Notes From the Underground” by BonnieSimmons
“Leon Trotsky: A Revolutionary in Power” by Tom Groenfeldt
“Handbook of Poetry for Intermediate Russian Students” by Eileen Murphy
“Translation of V. M. Garshin” by Karen Vaughan
The Jane Bancroft Cook Library at New College is home to a broad assortment of books, scholarly journals, national and international databases, and other print and electronic media related to the study of Russian and is available to students throughout the year. The library’s Language Resource Center (LRC) is designed to provide resources and support to language students and faculty. Audio-visual and print resources, language software and games are available. It’s also a social space where students can work individually or in groups as well as relax or interact with each other.
Also available at the library is the Dr. Helen N. Fagin Holocaust Collection. Named in honor of Holocaust survivor and New College benefactress Dr. Helen Fagin, the collection holds materials related to the Holocaust, genocide and humanitarian studies. The Fagin room can be reserved for occasional small meetings connected with the collection.
For the past several years, New College has hosted the annual International Career Development Seminar. The event is co-hosted by Young Professionals for International Cooperation (UNA-USA) Sarasota Chapter and New College of Florida. Through panel discussions, breakout Q&A sessions and networking, presenters share their international work experience in business, public health and medicine, the Peace Corps, the United Nations and the U.S. Foreign Service.
You Might Also Be Interested In…
New Topics New College is a public lecture series that runs from October through March. Free to students, the series features guest speakers discussing a wide range of current topics and issues — local, national and international.