Department of Russian

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Our Programme

In the Russian department we offer four language pathways: ab-initio pathway for students with no prior knowledge of the language; post GCSE, for those with GCSE Russian; post A level pathway for those who hold A level in Russian and heritage speakers pathway for students who have cultural connection to the Russian language.

In addition to core language modules students choose modules on Russian culture, literature, film and linguistics. The modules below are representative of the choices which might be available to you during your degree. You still should note that modules may change depending on the research interests of staff.

Year One

Russian Culture and Society

Introduction to basic themes, debates, and characteristics of Russian culture and society through the centuries.  Attention will be given to religion, to the binary dimension of Russian culture, to utopian aspirations, especially in the arts, to the place of the individual in society, and to the characteristic sites of Russian culture.

Foundations of Russian Studies

This module offers an introduction to Russian literature as well as to literary analysis through a close reading of select nineteenth-century and twentieth-century texts in all three basic genres (fiction, drama and poetry). It also offers an introduction to Russian film studies, equipping students with film-specific analytical tools and providing a first exposure to Russian cinema. Attention will be given to some of the major themes of Russian culture (the self in society, Russia and the West, the role of the intelligentsia, political ideals, etc.) and to developing techniques of interpretation appropriate to each genre and medium. 

Years Two and Final

Russian Novel: Countryside and Nation

This module examines the development of the Russian novel until 1860. We will focus on novels about the countryside as a distinctive site of Russian culture and society. Literary discussions of the distinctiveness of the Russian landscape, of its impact on the national character, of the identity of the Russian serf, and of the country estate as a centre of freedom and culture have all affected the development of a Romantic myth of national identity.

Russian Novel: Crimes and Punishment

This module examines the development of the Russian novel between 1860 and 1880. We will focus on Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, two novels about individuals, a man and a woman, who attempted to place themselves outside society and who are “punished” accordingly. In both cases, this emancipation from social and moral constraints becomes the occasion for a unique, profoundly influential piece of narrative art and for a sustained exploration of the spiritual, moral, and social ingredients of the modern condition.

Russian Short Stories: The Twentieth Century

While the novel has enjoyed a privileged status for much of the twentieth century, for important periods the short story dominated Russian culture. After defining and analyzing the specific features of the short story form, its theorizations, long critical neglect and the prejudice against it as a fragmentary form, this course focuses on periods where short stories came to the fore in Russia: the beginning and end of the century and the period of World War Two.

Russian Film: Gender and Society

Starting from the Russian revolution’s proclaimed liberation of women, this module analyses Russian cinema as both a reflection of and means of challenging the dominant constructions of masculine and feminine in Russian society. Informed by Feminist and other perspectives, students examine the shifting representations of gender, the changing role of women in the cinema industry, the specific nature of Russian women’s cinema, and the ways in which masculinity has been problematized and questioned in recent film.

Contemporary Russian Film

Through the analysis of films produced since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and creation of Russia, this course aims to equip students to be able to comment on contemporary Russian films as they are released. Teaching and assessment focuses on identifying key industrial, thematic and genre trends and issues in contemporary Russian cinema, with a focus on the intersection of the national and transnational.

Russian Syntax

The module provides a practical introduction to Russian syntax. It will offer an in-depth analysis of different types of complex and compound sentences, enhancing your ability both to comprehend Russian written texts and compose texts of your own.

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