Requirements

Russian Major

The Russian major consists of ten courses. There are two concentrations:

  • Russian Language, Literature, and Culture
  • Russian Area Studies

Language, Literature, and Culture Concentration

Language Requirement: a
RUS 1101Elementary Russian I1
RUS 1102Elementary Russian II1
RUS 2203Intermediate Russian I1
RUS 2204Intermediate Russian II1
RUS 3405Advanced Russian I1
RUS 3406Advanced Russian II1
Literature and Culture Requirement b,c,d
Select four courses on topics in Russian literature and culture at the 2000 or 3000 level. 4
  • Students in this concentration are encouraged to choose courses dealing with a range of time periods, topics, and literary genres whenever possible. Advanced work is likewise strongly encouraged.
  • In this concentration, students may count study-away courses toward the language requirement only; please refer to the study-away section on the Additional Information tab.

Area Studies Concentration 

Language Requirement e
RUS 1101Elementary Russian I1
RUS 1102Elementary Russian II1
RUS 2203Intermediate Russian I1
RUS 2204Intermediate Russian II1
Literature and Culture Requirement
Select two courses on topics in Russian literature and culture chosen from course offerings in Bowdoin’s Russian department at the 2000 or 3000 level.2
Area Studies Requirement f
Select two approved courses chosen from course offerings and taught by Russian department-affiliated faculty at Bowdoin in two additional departments at the 2000 or 3000 level. 2
Electives g,h
Select two courses on Russian topics or on Russian language at the advanced level. 2
  • In this concentration, students may count study-away courses to the language requirement only; please refer to the study-away section on the Additional Information tab.
  • Students in this concentration are encouraged to choose courses dealing with a range of time periods, topics, and intellectual disciplines whenever possible. Advanced work is likewise strongly encouraged.

Russian Minor

The Russian minor consists of five courses:

Language Requirement i
RUS 1101Elementary Russian I1
RUS 1102Elementary Russian II1
RUS 2203Intermediate Russian I1
Literature and Culture Requirement
Select two courses on topics in Russian literature and culture chosen from course offerings in Bowdoin’s Russian department at the 2000 or 3000 level.2

Additional Information and Department Policies

  • A first-year writing seminar on an approved topic may be counted toward the major or minor in place of a 2000-level course.
  • To be counted toward the Russian major or minor, courses must be taken for a letter grade (not Credit/D/Fail) and must receive a grade of at least C-.
  • Majors and minors may double-count one course with another department or program.

Courses Taught in English Translation

The department offers courses in English that focus on Russian literature and culture, numbered in the 2000s. These courses welcome non-majors and have no prerequisites; no knowledge of Russian language is required.


Study Away

Students are encouraged to spend at least one semester in Russia or another Russian-speaking region. Faculty work closely with students to find language immersion programs that best meet their needs and interests. Russian majors returning from study away are expected to take two courses in the department unless exceptions are granted by the chair. Two courses from a one-semester study-away program may be counted toward the Russian major; three courses may be counted toward the major from a yearlong program. Up to two courses from study away may be counted toward the minor. Students who wish to transfer credit from summer study away (limit: one course per summer) should gain approval of their plans in advance; refer to Transfer of Credit from Other Institutions.


Advanced Independent Study

This is an option intended for students who wish to work on honors projects or who have taken advantage of all the available course offerings and wish to work more closely on a particular topic already studied. Independent study is normally not an alternative to regular coursework, and no more than one advanced independent study counts toward the Russian major. Application should be made to a member of the department prior to the semester in which the project is undertaken.


Honors in Russian

Russian majors may elect to complete an honors project. Candidates for departmental honors must have an outstanding record in other courses for the major (minimum grade point average of 3.500 in courses counting toward the major) and must secure the agreement of a faculty member to serve as advisor; the advisor may be chosen from outside the Russian department with the chair’s approval. A research proposal outlining the project is due to the advisor and department chair by May 1 of the junior year or December 1 for juniors completing their second semester in the fall. The proposal must be well-focused and must address an area of study in which the student can already demonstrate basic knowledge; honors candidates completing a Russian language, literature, and culture concentration in the major are required to choose a topic containing a strong literary, cinematic, or linguistic component. The bibliography should incorporate several primary and secondary sources in the original language; in most cases, the project itself is written in English. Expected length and format are determined in consultation with the faculty advisor on a project-specific basis. The honors project is completed in the context of two semesters of advanced independent study in the senior year; one of these semesters may be counted toward major requirements. In addition, candidates for honors are required to take at least one course in the Russian department in the senior year. The student must receive a grade of A- or higher on the completed honors project to receive departmental honors.


Post-Graduate Study

Students planning post-graduate study should note that they present a stronger application if they take additional courses beyond what is strictly required to complete the Russian major. In particular, at least two courses on topics in Russian literature or culture at the 3000 level (taught entirely in Russian) are strongly recommended to all graduate school-bound Russian majors, regardless of concentration. Students wishing to pursue graduate study in the field of Russian language and literature should take additional courses on literary topics at the 2000 or 3000 level covering a wide range of literary-historical periods and genres (at a minimum, at least one course each focused on nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century literature, poetic genres, and prose genres). Students wishing to pursue graduate studies in an allied field (e.g., Russian politics, Russian history, Russian musicology, Russian cinema studies, and so on) are advised to take additional relevant courses both in the Russian department and in their field(s) of interest. All students who intend to pursue a graduate degree in a Russian-related field or subfield are strongly advised to consult with faculty on the design of their major and discuss the options of research projects through advanced independent studies, honors projects, fellowship-funded summer research, and intensive Russian language immersion programs.


Information for Incoming Students

The Russian department offers courses on Russian language, literature, film, visual and performing arts, culture, and society, spanning the Middle Ages through the 21st centuries. Our offerings are supplemented by courses on Russian history and politics taught in the departments of history and government and legal studies.

Russian Language

RUS 1101 Elementary Russian I has no prerequisite and is open to students who have no prior exposure to the Russian language. Students who plan to study Russian should be advised that the elementary Russian sequence is offered beginning only in the fall semester each year; thus, interested students are strongly encouraged to enroll in RUS 1101 Elementary Russian I in their first semester, so as not to lose a full year, keeping in mind that the more years of language study a student completes by graduation, the higher the proficiency level that student will achieve. Students interested in study abroad should note that some study abroad programs in Russia require two full years of prior Russian language study for eligibility.

Students who have previously studied Russian must consult with the department for placement (please contact Professor Reed Johnson for further information). As a general rule of thumb, two years of high school Russian are equivalent to one year of college Russian; however, the department always decides placement on a case-by-case basis. Heritage speakers, i.e., students who have grown up speaking Russian at home but did not receive their formal schooling in Russia, are likewise required to consult with the department chair before enrolling in a language course. The department currently offers Russian language courses at the elementary (first-year), intermediate (second-year), and advanced (third-year) levels, as well as 3000-level literature seminars taught entirely in Russian for our most advanced language students.

Russian Literature/Culture

Every semester, the Russian department offers one or more courses taught in English translation at the 2000-level that explore the rich  and diverse artistic cultures and/or literatures of Russia, Eastern Europe, or Eurasia. These courses are open to all students without prerequisite, and first-year students are welcome to enroll (no knowledge of the Russian language is required). Our 2000-level literature/culture courses are taught in a seminar style and discussion intensive format; they provide an introduction to a special topic that also opens a window onto Russian culture more generally. These courses can serve as an introduction to the Russian major or can comprise a one-time enhancement to a broad liberal arts education. 


This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue