2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

Russia and Eurasia: Empires and Enduring Legacies


Fall 2012, Winter 2013 and Spring 2013 quarters

Patricia Krafcik Russian language and literature , Robert Smurr Russian history, environmental history
Fields of Study
history, international studies, language studies and literature
Preparatory for studies or careers in
education, diplomatic and security services, film, music, art, writing, international business, and graduate studies in international affairs and in Russian and Slavic literary, historical, political and area studies.

Join us on an extraordinary virtual journey as we explore the diverse peoples, cultures and histories of the region that was once demarcated by the borders of the Russian and Soviet empires. We will take a multicultural approach in our examination of Russians and numerous other indigenous peoples who from ancient times have populated the vast expanses of Eurasian and Siberian steppe and forests.

In fall quarter we investigate Slavic, Scandinavian, Persian, Mongol and Turkic contributions to early Russian society and examine both the region's pre-Christian pagan animistic cultures and the rich Byzantine cultural legacy of Orthodox Christianity with its associated art and architectural forms, literature and music. Our fall journey takes us from the vibrant culture of Kievan Rus', through the development of the Muscovite state, imperial expansion and westernization during the reigns of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, and on to the start of the 19th century with Russia's emergence as a major world power. Medieval epics and chronicles as well as diverse films and readings enhance our study of this early turbulent history. Special geography workshops in both fall and winter terms help students identify fluently the location of cities and landmarks throughout the Russian and Soviet empires, as well as understand more profoundly the relationship between the various peoples of the empire and their environment.

Winter quarter concentrates on some of the world's greatest literature from Russia's 19th-century Golden Age, all read in tandem with vibrant historical accounts of the era. Works by Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov and others enable us to explore Russia's provocative social, religious and revolutionary ideologies. We examine the rise of the Russian Empire's radical intelligentsia who rebelled against autocratic tsarist policies and the institution of serfdom, and also emphasize the diverse ways in which these activities led to the world-changing revolutions of the early 20th century.

Spring quarter focuses on the tumultuous events of the 20th century, from the revolutions of 1905 and 1917 through the post-Soviet period. We investigate the legacy of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, including the horrific Stalin era with its purges, Gulag prison camps, brutal industrialization policies and devastating environmental practices. We place special emphasis on how writers, artists and filmmakers interpreted, influenced and survived the Soviet regime. Included in this emphasis is a detailed examination of the enormous sacrifices that the Soviet people experienced at the hands of their own communist dictatorship, as well as under Nazi occupation during the Second World War. This term ends with a review of events resulting in the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and the emergence of the fifteen independent states that arose from its ashes.

Students will write short papers in fall and winter quarters and have the opportunity to explore in depth a topic of their choice for a final research paper in spring. They will also create professionally produced posters based on their research and participate in a series of term-end exhibits of their posters as a way to share their research with their faculty and peers. Those who opt not to participate in the Beginning Russian Language portion within our program will have the option of completing additional research and writing projects within their respective seminars for full credit.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
$75 fall and winter for overnight travel and special workshop expenses; $10 in spring for performance expenses.
May be offered again in
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
December 5th, 2012 Variable credit section added.