Undergraduate Courses

Click here for a current list of courses - Choose from SLA (Slavic), PLS (Polish), BCS (Bosnian Serbian Croatian), CZE (Czech) and RUS (Russian).
RUS 102 Beginner's Russian II  In this continuation of RUS 101, we introduce plural forms while reviewing case usage and verbs in detail. Soviet posters continue to provide us with illustrations of the grammar, while building a basic familiarity with Soviet history and culture. A special unit focuses on everyday Russian, particularly for those planning to travel to Russia for the first time. The semester closes with a two-week reading unit with Soviet-era poetry and prose. M. Pettus
RUS 107 Intermediate Russian II  In this continuation of RUS 105, we address more advanced topics in Russian grammar, including verbal prefixes and word formation, both expanding our vocabulary and giving us the tools we need to analyze new words. Daily grammar lessons are illustrated with Russian paintings and poems. The semester closes with a major unit on Dostoevsky, in which we will discuss his biography and thought, and read a substantial portion of Crime and Punishment in the original. M. Pettus
RUS 108 Russian for Heritage Speakers II In this class, heritage students continue developing advanced language skills in Russian as well as exploring different aspects of Russian/Soviet culture and history. Materials include Russian classic and contemporary short stories, poetry, films, and articles from Russian media. The major goal of the course is to acquire cultural literacy in Russian, that is, to become familiar with some of the main cultural and linguistic patterns and concepts. S. Korshunova 
RUS 208  Advanced Russian Reading and Conversation II The course focuses on key events of Soviet history as they are reflected by major Russian poets and writers. Reading and discussion of poems by Alexander Blok, Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaeva, Osip Mandelstam, Joseph Brodsky, and a short story by Vladimir Nabokov. A continuation of 207, this course is designed to further develop speaking and reading proficiency, writing skills and substantial expansion of vocabulary. K. Blank
SLA 203 Russian Film: From Revolution to Today  An introduction to the cinematic tradition of Russia and the Soviet Union. This course will offer close, contextualized, and comparative analysis of major Russian films from the 1920s to the present. We will examine the films in terms of their formal structures and their reception, and in light of the epochal social, political and cultural changes that took place over Russia's last, turbulent century. Filmmakers to be studied include Eisenstein, Vertov, Tarkovsky, Sokurov, Zvyagintsev, and others. No prior knowledge of Russian culture or language is required. A. Berdinskikh
SLA 210 Haunted Russia: Ghosts and Spirits in Russian Cultural Imagination In this course, we will discuss ghost stories written by prominent Russian writers. We will also discuss various representations of the supernatural phenomena in Western and Russian spirit photography, music, and film. We will consider the concept of the apparition as a cultural myth which tells us about the "hidden side" of the Russian historical imagination and about political and ideological conflicts which have haunted Russian society from the 18th c. to our days. The class is designed as a series of *intellectual seances* focused on a certain work considered within a broad historical context. All readings will be in English translation. This seminar explores representations of health and illness through the literary and the visual media. From death and dying to epidemics, from disability to care giving, we will examine how these universal conditions are conveyed through literary texts, public health campaign posters, graphic novels, paintings, illustrations, and photography. Most of the meetings will take place at the Princeton University Art Museum to engage in depth with the items in the collection. Students will have the option to submit creative projects for the midterm and the final assignments. I. Vinitsky
SLA 220 The Great Russian Novel and Beyond: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Others  An examination of significant trends in Russian literature from the 2nd half of the 19th century to the Russian Revolution and a bit beyond. The course focuses on many masterpieces of 19th & 20th-century Russian literature. The works (mostly novels) are considered from a stylistic point of view and in the context of Russian historical and cultural developments. The course also focuses on questions of values and on the eternal "big questions" of life that are raised in the literature. Authors read include Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Bely, Nabokov, and Kharms. E. Chances
SLA 306 Media and Early Soviet Publics A study of media informed by the idea of social revolution. We will consider how filmmakers, photographers, artists, and writers engaged with Marxist ideas in the wake of Russia's 1917 Revolution, and how they aimed to shape, influence, and involve new audiences in their political project. We will examine how the development of "new" media (radio, film, documentary) was informed by ideology, and compare/contrast this Soviet media with its Western counterparts. Topics to be addressed include propaganda and agitation; masses, classes, collectivities; ownership of media; and gender and political change. A. Berdinskikh
SLA 330 Existentialism: Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, and Beyond  What unites the diverse movement of Existentialism is a focus on concrete human existence. While other schools of art and thought often distract one from personal existence, Existentialism forces one to grapple personally with life's big questions. Franz Kafka puts it well: 'A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us' Topics include desire, grief, deception, anxiety, despair, nihilism, authenticity, freedom, responsibility, guilt, the leap of faith, the absurd, the problem of evil, death, and the meaningful life. With focus on Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky, readings also include Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, and Kafka. M. Parlin
SLA 350 Russian Fairy Tales The course introduces students to stories that every Russian is exposed to as a child. Seemingly simple, these narratives bear deep cultural significance. We will sample a dozen of Russian fairy tales belonging to the oral tradition. We will also read and discuss two fairy tales by Alexander Pushkin, as well as short excerpts from the works by the foremost Russian scholar of folklore Vladimir Propp. Readings and discussion will be in Russian. This course is envisioned as both a language and literature course. K. Blank
SLA 415 Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace: Writing as Fighting  We start with Tolstoy's artistic stimuli and narrative strategies, explore the author's provocative visions of war, gender, sex, art, social institutions, death, and religion. The emphasis is placed here on the role of a written word in Tolstoy's search for truth and power. The main part is a close reading of his masterwork The War and Peace (1863-68) - a quintessence of both his artistic method and philosophical insights. Each student will be assigned to keep a "hero's diary" and speak on behalf of one or two major heroes of the epic (including the Spirit of History). The roles will be distributed in accordance with the will of fate. I. Vinitsky
SLA 422 Church Slavonic and History of Slavic Taking as its foundation modern Church Slavonic, whose grammar and orthography will be studied in detail, this course will look back to the development of Old Church Slavonic as the first Slavic literary language, and, further, to Proto-Slavic. As we describe the development of Church Slavonic, we will also consider the historical development of the various Slavic languages, with special emphasis on Russian, and the influence of Church Slavonic forms on literary Russian. We will also touch on such aspects of Eastern Orthodox culture as liturgy, iconography, and music. M. Pettus