We are a small department that addresses a big topic: Russia. We pride ourselves on the close individual attention we give to our students; this is not a department where you will get lost in the shuffle. We also believe strongly in keeping things fun.
Our mission is threefold:
- to help our students explore Russia’s extraordinarily rich literary and cultural terrain;
- to provide rigorous practical training in its beautiful and complex language; and
- to push our students to become engaged and effective thinkers and writers.
The teaching and research interests of the Russian faculty are interdisciplinary, and we maintain close ties with departments and programs in comparative literature, cinema, environmental studies, history, Jewish studies, politics, sociology, and theater. We offer one of the most diverse arrays of courses of any undergraduate Russian department in the country, both in the original Russian and in translation, on literature, theater, dance, film, and visual culture.
Our multiyear sequence of language courses gives you firm grounding in spoken and written Russian. We place particular emphasis on building functional communicative skills necessary to live, study, and or conduct research in Russia. Majors and non-majors can study abroad for a semester or a year in an Oberlin-affiliated program in Russia (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Irkutsk, Yaroslavl) or Eastern Europe (Prague, Budapest, Warsaw).
Graduates enter such top graduate schools as Columbia University, Wisconsin University, Brown University, Yale University, and the University of California, Berkeley. Others have pursued careers in teaching, government, law, journalism, library science, and international business.
We offer two majors: Russian, for students who want to focus primarily on literature and culture, and Russian and East European Studies (REES), a multidisciplinary program for students who want to combine the study of language and literature with courses in history, Jewish studies, politics, and sociology. A fundamental knowledge of Russian is essential.
You also can minor in either discipline; linguistic requirements for the Russian and REES minors are less stringent than they are for the majors. We have many courses in literature and in translation that are open to all students without prerequisites.
We provide you with a wealth of opportunities to enhance your study of Russian outside of the classroom, including lectures, winter term projects, and internships. You can live in Russian House, a small coeducational residence hall for up to 15 students. It has a community feel and is the site for most Russian cultural and social activities on campus. You can attend the weekday Russian Table during lunchtime to practice language skills in a friendly, relaxed environment.
You can access OCREECAS, the Oberlin Center for Russian and East European and Central Asian Studies, which promotes awareness of the region to the Oberlin community. The center has an ongoing series of interdisciplinary short courses featuring prominent experts and supervises internship, and research, community service for qualified students and recent graduates.