Member of the Division of Humanities
The study of Russian at Grinnell opens the door to a challenging non-Western language and to the rich cultural and historical experience of the world’s largest country. All courses in the Russian language sequence emphasize linguistic proficiency, with the goal of educating students who can speak, write, read, and understand the Russian language and Russian culture—and use that knowledge for academic and general research, and in various professional contexts, both in the United States and in the Russian-speaking world. Particular emphasis is placed on speaking and listening skills at every level, and all language courses are conducted primarily in Russian. Courses in translation consider the important literary and cultural offerings of Russia’s past and present, ranging from the great works by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, to the history of Russian film. The department provides an active and welcoming co-curricular program, with films, plays, concerts, lectures, and a weekly Russian table. Our active Russian-language house residents regularly organize various student events for those studying Russian.
The first three semesters of the Russian program (RUS 101 , RUS 102 , RUS 221 ) stress stress communicative competence, with an attention to grammar in context. Students encounter a wide variety of original texts from the very beginning of the language sequence, and work closely with faculty and a native-speaking assistant in developing their language skills. The emphasis in the fourth semester (RUS 222 ) builds on the foundations established in earlier courses, with more in-depth attention to grammar and stylistics. Students at this level begin to read longer texts in the original and discuss and write about them in Russian.
The four-semester basic language sequence is essential for a student who wishes to study off-campus in Russia, and who plans to do research in his/her field or to develop strong communication skills in Russian. The fifth semester (RUS 313 ), required for the major, further develops linguistic competence, and provides a deeper understanding of the essential aspects of Russian culture, particularly in preparation for off-campus study. Students majoring in Russian often further their progress through off-campus study (see below). Students complete the major by taking the RUS 389 - Advanced Russian Seminar . Two-and four-credit independent projects and guided readings are available for students after the fourth semester language course, sometimes in conjunction with courses on the history or politics of Russia-offerings which can also count towards a Russian major.
The department also offers courses on modern Russian literature in translation (RUS 247 , RUS 248 , RUS 251 , RUS 261 , RUS 353 ). These provide access to Russian literature and culture for students who do not have a command of the language. Russian majors are encouraged to take these courses and to broaden and deepen their understanding of the Russian experience by exploring other disciplines—history, philosophy, the social sciences, and the languages and literatures of other national heritages. With this background, they may seek careers in teaching and scholarship, government, library science and informational services, journalism, and international trade. In addition, study in mathematics and the natural sciences in conjunction with a Russian major can open doors to careers in international science and engineering.
Language is, of course, a social phenomenon. For this reason, many students of Russian become involved in the lively extracurricular program: Russian House; Russian language dinners, parties, films, visits; and lectures by Russian and American specialists. A native Russian language assistant is in residence in Russian House to make spoken Russian a daily reality. To encourage further mastery of the language and deeper knowledge of Russian culture, the department recommends that students study in Russia and is affiliated with programs of study in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Vladimir; our students have also studied, with College approval in Irkutsk, Yaroslavl, and other Russian cities.