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Course Descriptions

Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

P.O. Box 400783
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4783
Phone: (434) 924-3548 Fax: (434) 982-2744

Overview Given the current political climate in Russia and Eastern Europe, there is reason to believe that the United States will play an increasing role in trade and cultural exchange with these countries. As a result, there will be a need, in both the private and public sectors, for people familiar with East European languages and cultures. The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures works to meet this need by offering a broad spectrum of courses in three areas of study: language, literature, and folklore.

Students find a comprehensive curriculum in language. The program in Russian language offers introductory courses in the fundamentals and more advanced courses in reading, composition, stylistics, and the language of business. In addition to these courses, which develop oral/aural and written proficiency in the language, students may pursue other interests relating to language (linguistics, for example). Instruction is also available in other Slavic languages including Polish, Czech, Serbian, and Croatian.

Russian literature is also a major emphasis of the department. Course offerings cover the entire range of Russian literature, from the works of medieval Russia to those of the present. The courses vary from broad surveys read in English translation to seminars on individual writers (e.g., Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Nabokov). Emphasis is placed on the forces that have shaped Russian literature, including social concerns as well as the Russian sense of history and national destiny.

Finally, the department offers courses in folklore that deal with Slavic myth, ritual, epic, tale, song, and folklore theory. Theory courses, while often relying on Slavic examples, address issues with relevance beyond the Slavic field, such as the nature of oral literature and the significance of ritual in understanding human behavior.

Faculty  The eight faculty members of the department are involved on a daily basis in the education of their students. Since the department is small, access to faculty is easy. Faculty interests range from literary theory, to linguistics, to modern cultural criticism and folklore.

Students  There are currently about 35 students majoring in Slavic languages and literatures. Most courses in the department are small, from 15 to 25 students, and are taught by a faculty member. With permission, undergraduates with superior skills may enroll in graduate courses in their fourth year of study. Most courses are taught as discussions or lecture/discussions in order to encourage student input. Thus, students learn to think critically, and develop well-rounded analytic abilities. Students who complete majors in the Slavic department often go on to graduate programs to work toward higher degrees, or to professional programs. Others work in the government (State Department, grant administration, security agencies), the private sector, or the media. Still others choose to travel and work in the NIS; opportunities include teaching, internships, and volunteer work.

Special Resources

The Center for Russian and East European Studies (CREES) provides a focal point for students interested in this field. Lectures and colloquia as well as social events are sponsored.

Study Abroad  The Slavic Department and the International Studies Office offer programs at St. Petersburg State University which provide students with the opportunity to broaden their knowledge of Russian language and culture. Program offerings include Russian language, literature, and culture. Courses of study are tailored to meet the needs of individual students and are determined in advance in consultation with instructors in the Slavic Department at the University. In addition to the academic component of the program, an integral part of the program is direct experience of the culture.

Russian House  Students may live in Russian House, a residential facility near Grounds. Residents are expected and encouraged to speak Russian as much as possible in this setting. Russian House features social and academic events such as lectures, a film series, meals, and informal gatherings. A University instructor who is a native speaker of Russian is in residence at the house as well.

Requirements for Major  The department offers two major programs:

  1. Russian Language and Literature: twenty-four credits beyond RUSS 202, including RUSS 301, 302, RUTR 335, RUTR236, and twelve credits planned in consultation with an advisor.
  2. Russian and East European Studies: thirty credits beyond RUSS202, including 6 credits of language study (RUSS 301-302 or 6 credits of another Slavic language, e.g., Polish, Czech, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Croatian); RUTR 246; one course in each of Russian or East European government, history, folklore, and literature; additional courses in one or more of these areas planned in consultation with an advisor. No more than 18 of the 30 credits (i.e., 6 of the 10 courses) may be in one department.

Students in the major must maintain a satisfactory grade point in major-related courses each semester. Satisfactory is defined as an average of C (i.e., 2.0), with no grade below C-. Students not maintaining this grade point are subject to discontinuation from the major.

Requirement for Minor  The department offers two minor programs:

  1. Russian Language, Literature, and Culture: 21 credits beyond RUSS 102 in Russian language, literature, and folklore; and
  2. Russian and East European Studies: 21 credits beyond RUSS 102 in Russian language, literature, folklore, government, history, etc., with no more than 9 credits in any one department. The 9-credit restriction does not include RUSS 201 and 202. Therefore, as many as 15 of the 21 credits may be taken in Slavic Languages and Literatures should the student choose to take RUSS 201 and 202.

Distinguished Majors Program  Students with superior academic performance (GPA 3.5 or above in the major) are encouraged to apply to the department for the Distinguished Majors Program (DMP) in Russian Language, Russian Literature, or Russian and East European Studies. This program offers the exceptional student the opportunity for more rigorous and specialized work, including independent study, participation in upper-level courses, and the preparation of a senior thesis.

Students are normally admitted to the DMP at the end of their third year of study. See undergraduate major advisor for requirements.

College Language Requirement  The language requirement in the College of Arts and Sciences may be satisfied in Russian by completing successfully RUSS 202, or by presenting evidence of equivalent preparation. Any incoming student or student returning from study abroad, or study at another institution, who wishes to continue Russian must take a placement test.

Additional Information For more information, contact Mr. Mark J. Elson, Director of Undergraduate Studies, 109 Cabell Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22903; (434) 924-3548; slavic@virginia.edu; www.virginia.edu/ slavic.

Course Descriptions


Note  Enrollment in 500-level courses is normally restricted to graduate students in degree programs. Undergraduates wishing to enroll in such courses must have permission of the instructor. Graduate students should consult the Graduate Record for further information. Enrollment in all language courses (including RUSS 304 and 305) is subject to confirmation by placement exam at the discretion of the instructor, normally during the first week of the semester.

Russian Language, Literature, Folklore, and Linguistics

RUSS 101, 102 - (4) (Y)
First-Year Russian

Introduces Russian grammar with emphasis on reading and speaking. Class meets five days per week plus work in the language laboratory. To be followed by RUSS 201, 202. A grade of C- or better in RUSS 101 is a prerequisite for 102.

SLAV 170, 171 - (1-2-3) (IR)
Liberal Arts Seminar

Seminar on selected topics in the field of Slavic studies designed primarily for first- and second-year students. Recent topics have included 'the arts in revolution,' 'war and peace,' and 'poetry writing: American and Russian perspectives.'

RUSS 201, 202 - (4) (Y)
Second-Year Russian

Prerequisite: RUSS 102 (with grade of C- or better), or equivalent
Continuation of Russian grammar. Grade of C- or better in RUSS 201 is prerequisite for 202. Includes practice in speaking and writing Russian and introduction to Russian prose and poetry. Class meets four days per week, plus work in the language laboratory.

SLFK 201 - (3) (IR)
Introduction to Slavic Folklore

Open to students with no knowledge of Russian. Surveys Russian and Ukrainian oral folklore, including folktales, legends, incantations, laments, epics, and other songs. Discusses theories and functions of oral folklore and compares and contrasts Russian and Ukranian genres with their American counterparts. Focuses on cultural beliefs and attitudes expressed in oral folklore in Russia, Ukraine, and America.

SLFK 203 - (3) (IR)
Terror and Taboo in Russian Childlore

Children are exposed frequently to sex, violence, and other questionable material in such genres as lullabies, folk tales, jokes, rhymes, and ghost stories. Through application of contemporary folklore and psychological theories, students examine Russian and American children's folklore to determine their functions in socialization. Focuses on comparison of patterns of cultural identity to identity construction.

SLFK 204 - (3) (Y)
Story and Healing

Explores the concept of healing from a variety of different perspectives including healing of the self, community, and nation. Examines how myth, epic, fairy tales, and other genres provide a means to reach such healing, or how they may describe or depict the process of healing. Emphasizes the folk literature of Russians, Ukrainians, and the indigenous tribes of Siberia, considering oral traditions of other cultures as a point of comparison.

SLFK 211 - (3) (O)
Tale and Legend

Open to students with no knowledge of Russian. Studies the folktale traditions of the Eastern Slavs, primarily the Russians and the Ukrainians. Covers theories of folk prose narrative and discusses the relationship between folktales and society, and folktales and child development. Topics include related prose narrative forms, such as legend, and related forms of child socialization, such as folk children's games.

SLFK 212 - (3) (E)
Ritual and Family Life

Open to students with no knowledge of Russian. Studies the rituals of birth, marriage, and death as practiced in 19th-century peasant Russia and in Russia today and the oral literature associated with these rituals. Topics include family patterns, child socialization and child rearing practices, gender issues, and problems of the elderly in their 19th century and current manifestations.

SLFK 213 - (3) (IR)
Magic Acts

Because associative thinking is often done outside of awareness, this course seeks to make it conscious by looking at magic practices in cultures different from our own. Specifically, students will examine east Slavic (Russian and Ukrainian) magic in its various forms. They will then look at phenomena closer to our own culture. Experimentation is part of this course. Its purpose will not be to ascertain whether magic "works." It will try to determine, and then describe, how associative thinking works and how people feel when they use this type of thinking.

SLFK 214 - (3) (E)
Ritual and Demonology

Open to students with no knowledge of Russian. Studies Russian and Ukrainian folk belief as it manifests itself in daily life. Examines how Russian and Ukrainian peasants lived in the 19th century, and how this effects both living patterns and attitudes today. Includes farming techniques, house and clothing types, and food beliefs. Covers the agrarian calendar and its rituals such as Christmas and Easter, the manipulation of ritual in the Soviet era, and the resurgence of ritual today.

SLFK 215 - (3) (IR)
Magic and Meaning

Magic is the ineffable between categories. It is what we seek to understand and to control. It is also what we fear. In many senses, it is the essence of folklore. This course will examine the nature and the use of magic, both positive and negative, it will look at magic acts and magic people.

SLAV 236 - (3) (Y)

Open to students with no knowledge of any Slavic languages. Surveys Slavic life and thought from the earliest times, with stress on the role played by the languages, religious beliefs, folklore, and social organization of the different Slavic peoples. Emphasis in recent years has been on Slavic primitive religion and belief in vampires.

RUTR 246 - (3) (Y)
Civilization and Culture of Russia

Open to students with no knowledge of Russian. Surveys Russian civilization from the earliest times, with emphasis on literature, thought, and the arts.

RUTR 247 - (3) (IR)
Modern Russian Culture

Open to students with no knowledge of Russian. Explores patterns in Russian literature, music, and art from 1900 to the present. Topics include the decline of the Old Regime, impact of revolution on the arts of Russia, modernism of the 1920s in literature, music, art, and film, and the arts today.

RUTR 256 - (3) (IR)
Russian Masterpieces

Open to students with no knowledge of Russian. Studies selected great works of nineteenth- and twentieth-century prose fiction.

RUTR 273 - (3) (Y)
Dostoevsky and the Modern Novel

Open to students with no knowledge of Russian. Studies the major works of Dostoevsky.

RUTR 274 - (3) (IR)
Tolstoy in Translation

Open to students with no knowledge of Russian. Studies the major works of Tolstoy.

RUSS 301, 302 - (3) (Y)
Third-Year Russian

Prerequisite: RUSS 202, 203 or equivalent with a grade of C or above.
Continuation of Russian grammar. Includes intensive oral practice through reports, dialogues, guided discussions; composition of written reports and essays; readings in literary and non-literary texts. Class meets three hours per week, plus work in the language laboratory.

RUSS 303 - (1) (S)
Intermediate Conversation

Prerequisite: RUSS 202, or equivalent.
Two hours of conversation practice per week. May be repeated for credit.

RUSS 304 - (1) (IR)
Applied Russian Phonetics

Prerequisite: RUSS 102.
Examines the sound system of the Russian language with special attention to palatalization, vowel reduction, sounds in combination, and the relationship of sound to spelling.

RUSS 305 - (1) (IR)
Phonetics and Russian Word Formation

Prerequisite: RUSS 102.
Examines the sound system, lexicon, and word formative processes of the Russian literary language.

RUSS 306 - (3) (Y)
Russian for Business

Prerequisite: RUSS 202.
Russian for oral and written communication in business situations.

RUTR 335 - (3) (Y)
Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature

Open to students with no knowledge of Russian. Studies the major works of Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Turgenev, Goncharov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and others. Emphasizes prose fiction. This course is a prerequisite for 500-level literature courses.

RUTR 336 - (3) (Y)
Russian Culture of the Twentieth Century

Open to students with no knowledge of Russian. Explores the literature and film of Russia and the Soviet Union in the twentieth century. Examines the relationships of modern Russian culture to earlier Russian culture and to Western cultures. Movements treated include symbolism, futurism, acmeism, socialist realism, and postmodernism.

RUTR 358 - (3) (IR)
Russian Prose From 1881-1917

Open to students with no knowledge of Russian. Studies late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Russian prose. Concentrates on evolution of Russian realism and rise of symbolist and ornamentalist fiction.

RUTR 368 - (3) (IR)
The Russian Novel in European Perspective

Open to students with no knowledge of Russian. Studies the evolution of the Russian novel, its thematic and structural features, from the early nineteenth century to the present.

RUTR 391, 392 - (3) (IR)
Topics in Russian Literature

Studies in English translation of selected authors, works, or themes in Russian literature. Topics in recent years were Solzhenitsyn, Nabokov. Students offering this course for major credit will be required to do assigned readings in Russian. May be repeated for credit under different topics.

RUTR 393 - (3) (IR)
Case Studies in Russian Literature

Open to students with no knowledge of Russian. One great novel such as War and Peace or The Brothers Karamazov is studied in detail along with related works and a considerable sampling of critical studies.

RUTR 395 - (3) (IR)

Open to students with no knowledge of Russian. Studies the evolution of Nabokov's art, from his early Russian language tales to the major novels written in English.

RUSS 401, 402 - (3) (Y)
Fourth-Year Russian

Prerequisite: RUSS 301, 302 with a grade of C or above.
Continuation of Russian grammar. Includes oral practice, extensive reading, and work in Russian stylistics.

RUSS 491, 492 - (3) (S)
Senior Thesis in Russian Studies

For majors in Russian and East European studies, normally taken in the fourth year.

RUSS 493 - (3) (S)
Independent Study

May be repeated for credit.

RUSS  498 - (3) (S)
Senior Honors Thesis

Required of honors majors in Russian language and literature and Russian and East European studies.

RUSS 500 - (3) (SI)
Reading Techniques for Russian Newspapers and Periodicals

Prerequisite: RUSS 202 or the equivalent.
Training in the translation of Russian newspapers and journal articles.

RUSS 501 - (3) (Y)
Readings in the Social Sciences

Prerequisite: RUSS 302 and instructor permission.
Based on careful analysis of the social science texts students are introduced to advanced topics in Russian morphology and syntax.

RUSS 502 - (3) (IR)
Advanced Proficiency Russian

Prerequisite: RUSS 402.
Develops advanced-level proficiency in the four skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. May be repeated for credit.

RUSS 503 - (3) (Y)
Advanced Russian

Prerequisite: RUSS 301, 302, and instructor permission; RUSS 401, 402 strongly recommended.
Graduate-level grammar and translation.

RUSS 505 - (1) (S)
Advanced Conversation

Prerequisite: RUSS 302.
Two hours of conversation practice per week. May be repeated for credit.

Note  The following courses all require a reading knowledge of Russian, unless otherwise stated.

RUSS 521 - (3) (IR)
The Structure of Modern Russian: Phonology and Morphology

Prerequisite: LNGS 325, RUSS 202, and instructor permission.
Studies linguistic approaches to the phonology and morphology of standard Russian.

RUSS 522 - (3) (IR)
The Structure of Modern Russian: Syntax and Semantics

Prerequisite: RUSS 202 and instructor permission, LNGS 325 strongly recommended.
Studies linguistic approaches to the syntax and semantics of contemporary standard Russian.

RUSS 523 - (3) (IR)
History of the Russian Literary Language

Prerequisite: RUSS 202 and instructor permission.
History of literary (standard) Russian from its formation to the present day. Includes problems of vocabulary, syntax, and stylistics.

RUSS 524 - (3) (IR)
History of the Russian Language

Prerequisite: LNGS 325, RUSS 202.
Diachronic linguistic analysis of the Russian language.

SLAV 512-(3) (IR)
Slavic Folklore and Oral Literature

Treats the major genres of Russian oral literature and many of the minor genres. Also covers relevant folklore theory.

SLAV 514 - (3) (Y)
Slavic Ritual

This course looks at two types of ritual and at the area of folklore called material culture, which studies objects and typically examines such things as folk housing, folk costume, tools/implements, and foodways.

SLAV 536 - (3) (O)
Slavic Mythology

Surveys Slavic pre-Christian and Christian beliefs and customs, emphasizing their role in folklore.

SLAV 537 - (3) (E)
South Slavic Folklore

Surveys South Slavic ethnography and folklore, emphasizing the Bulgarians and the Serbs.

RUSS 550 - (3) (IR)
Russian Satire

Studies the theory and praxis of Russian literary satire. Examines some examples of Russian satire from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries; course focuses on twentieth-century works. Students become familiar with the forms and functions of satire in Russian, Soviet, and emigre literary culture.

RUSS 551 - (3) (SI)
Russian Drama and Theatre

Studies works from Fonvizin to Shvarts with emphasis on the major plays of Gogol, Chekhov, and Gorky. Includes production theories of Stanislavsky, Meyerhold, and other prominent Russian directors.

RUSS 552 - (3) (O)
The Rise of the Russian Novel, 1795-1850

Traces the development of the Russian novel in the first half of the nineteenth century. Focuses on the major contributions of Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Dostoevsky, and Turgenev, and examines the social and literary forces which contributed to the evolution of the Russian novel, including the rise of a literary marketplace, influences from West European literature, etc.

RUSS 553 - (3) (IR)
The Golden Age of Russian Poetry

Studies works by Zhukovsky, Batiushkov, Pushkin, Lermontov, Baratynsky, Tiutchev, and others.

RUSS 554 - (3) (E)
Age of Realism, 1851-1881

Examines the accomplishments of Russia's most celebrated writers during the middle of the nineteenth century. Explores the many forms which the concept of 'realism' assumed in Russia at this time, and investigates how Russian writers responded to the calls of their contemporary critics to use literature to promote socially progressive ends.

RUSS 555 - (3) (E)
The Silver Age of Russian Poetry

Studies works by Blok, Akhmatova, Mandelstam, Mayakovsky, Tsvetaeva, and Pasternak; Topics include Russian symbolism, acmeism, and futurism.

RUSS 556 - (3) (E)
Russian Modernism

Examines selected works by the leading writers of the early part of the twentieth century. Explores concepts of symbolism, acmeism, and futurism. Focuses on competing conceptions of literature that evolved in the 1920s until the establishment of the hegemony of socialist realism in the 1930s. Considers works written by Russian writers living in emigration.

RUSS 557 - (3) (IR)
Russian Formalism and Structuralist Poetics

Prerequisite: Reading knowledge of French, German, or Russian suggested.
Studies the theory and practice of groups of literary critics.

RUSS 558 - (3) (O)
Contemporary Russian Literature

Traces the evolution of Russian literature from the 'Thaw' period until the present. Examines the diverse ways in which Russia's writers tried to accommodate, evade, or challenge the prevailing norms of Soviet literature during the 1960s, and concludes with an analysis of the conflicting forces shaping the development of Russian literature at the present moment.

RUSS 565 - (3) (SI)

Prerequisite: RUSS 301, 302.
Studies syntactic, lexical, and other stylistic features of literary Russian in various contexts.

RUSS 573 - (3) (SI)
Dostoevsky and the Modern Novel

Studies the major works of Dostoevsky. Emphasizes the various critical approaches employed in the study of Dostoevsky. Open to students from other departments with no knowledge of Russian.

RUSS 575 - (3) (IR)
Russian Poetry

Treats Russian poetics and analyzes selected Russian poets from Pushkin to the present.

RUSS 585, 586 - (3) (SI)
Topics in Comparative Literature

Studies various literary themes, movements, genres in an attempt to relate Russian literature to the literatures of other countries. The course is open to students from other departments with no knowledge of Russian, and may be taken more than once for credit.

RUSS 591 - (3) (Y)
Selected Topics in Literature

Typical topics in various years include 'Tolstoy,' 'Russian literary journalism,' and the 'mid-nineteenth century Russian novel.' In some years open to students from other departments with no knowledge of Russian. May be repeated for credit.

SLAV 592 - (3) (SI)
Selected Topics in Russian Linguistics

May be repeated for credit.

Slavic Linguistics and Other Slavic Languages and Literatures

Note  Prerequisites for courses listed below: instructor permission; some knowledge of Russian recommended.

BULG 121, 122 - (3) (IR)
Introduction to Bulgarian Language

Introduces students to the essentials of Bulgarian grammar with emphasis on speaking and reading.

CZ 121, 122 - (3) (IR)
Introduction to Czech Language

Introduces students to the essentials of Czech grammar with emphasis on speaking and reading.

POL 121, 122 - (3) (IR)
Introduction to Polish Language

Introduces students to the essentials of Polish grammar with emphasis on speaking and reading.

SRBC 121, 122 - (3) (IR)
Introduction to Serbian or Croatian Language

Introduces students to the essentials of Serbian or Croatian grammar with emphasis on speaking and reading.

UKR 121, 122 - (3) (IR)
Introduction to Ukrainian Language

Introduces students to the essentials of Ukrainian grammar with emphasis on speaking and reading.

SLAV 322 - (3) (Y)
The Spy in Eastern Europe

Prerequisite: knowledge of 20th century
European history and permission of the instructor The course will begin with a look at the root differences between Eastern Europe and the West followed by a brief sketch of their interface during the 20th century. Then, centering on case studies, which will serve as the basis of class discussion, the role of espionage both in reality and in perception in the process of information transfer during the Cold War will be studied. The cases will draw on CIA/KGB archival material, spies' memoirs, the press, fiction, and film. Group projects will center on technology and techniques of cryptography, covert operation, surveillance, and overt information gathering.

SLAV 525 - (3) (IR)
Introduction to Slavic Linguistics

Prerequisite: LNGS 325, RUSS 202, and instructor permission.
Introduces the phonology, morphology, and grammatical structure of Russian and other Slavic languages.

SLAV 533 - (3) (IR)
Topics in West Slavic Literatures

Includes Polish, Czech, or Slovak fiction, poetry, or drama. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

SLAV 543 - (3) (SI)
Topics in South Slavic Literatures

Includes Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, Bulgarian, or Macedonian fiction, poetry, or drama. May be repeated for credit when topics vary.

General Linguistics

LNGS 200 - (3) (IR)
Grammatical Concepts in Foreign Language Learning

Prerequisite: Some foreign language experience strongly recommended.
Intended for all students interested in language. Treats the grammatical concepts traditionally considered relevant in the teaching and study of foreign languages, including the study of English as a second language.

LNGS 222 - (3) (Y)
Black English

Introduces the history and structure of what has been termed Black English Vernacular or Black Street English. Emphasizes the sociolinguistic factors which led to the emergence of this variety of English, as well as its present role in the black community and its relevance in education, racial stereotypes, etc.

LNGS 325 - (3) (Y)
Introduction to Linguistics Theory and Analysis

Introduces sign systems, language as a sign system, and approaches to linguistic description. Emphasizes the application of descriptive techniques to data.

LNGS 495, 496 - (1-6) (Y)
Independent Study in General Linguistics

For students who wish to pursue linguistic theory and the application of linguistic methodology to data beyond the introductory level.

SLTR 200 - (3) (IR)
Eastern Europe Through Literature and Film

Examines a series of Eastern European literary works and films as insights into cultural responses to major historical and intellectual challenges in Eastern Europe from the outbreak of World War II to the present. Explores the role of cultural media in motivating and mythologizing historical events in Eastern Europe.

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