Russian and East European Studies

Director of undergraduate studies: Constantine Muravnik, 2710B HGS, 432-0995,; slavicdepartment/rsee; Yale Macmillan Center


Professors Vladimir Alexandrov (Slavic Languages & Literatures), Paul Bushkovitch (History), Katerina Clark (Comparative Literature, Slavic Languages & Literatures), Laura Engelstein (History), John Gaddis (History), Harvey Goldblatt (Slavic Languages & Literatures), John MacKay (Slavic Languages & Literatures, Film & Media Studies), Timothy Snyder (History)

Associate Professors Jason Lyall (Political Science), Douglas Rogers (Anthropology), Marci Shore (History)

Assistant Professors Marijeta Bozovic (Slavic Languages & Literatures), Molly Brunson (Slavic Languages & Literatures), Bella Grigoryan (Slavic Languages & Literatures)

Lecturer Hilary Fink

Senior Lectors II Irina Dolgova, Constantine Muravnik

Senior Lectors Krystyna Illakowicz, Julia Titus, Karen von Kunes

The major in Russian and East European Studies, administered by the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of a broad region: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Caucasus, and Central Asia; Poland, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republics, and other areas in east central Europe; and the Balkans. The program is appropriate for students considering careers in international public policy, diplomacy, or business, and is also suited to students wishing to continue academic work.

Languages A full understanding of the area demands knowledge of its languages. Students must demonstrate either proficiency in Russian or intermediate-level ability in an East European language. Students may demonstrate proficiency in Russian by (1) completing fourth-year Russian (RUSS 160, 161); (2) passing a written examination to demonstrate equivalent ability; or (3) completing a literature course taught in Russian and approved by the director of undergraduate studies. Students may demonstrate intermediate-level ability in an East European language by (1) completing a two-year sequence in an East European language (currently Czech, Polish, Romanian, or Ukrainian; students interested in studying other East European languages should contact the director of undergraduate studies); or (2) by passing a language examination demonstrating equivalent ability. Students are encouraged to learn more than one language.

Course requirements Thirteen term courses taken for a letter grade are required for the major. Students must take one course in Russian or East European history selected in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies. If Russian is presented as the primary language to satisfy the requirements of the major, then all East European language courses and third- and fourth-year Russian courses count toward the major. If an East European language other than Russian is presented as the primary language, then all courses in that language designated L3 or higher count toward the major. Electives are chosen in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies from an annual list of offerings. Electives must include at least one course in a social science. Other undergraduate courses relevant to Russian and East European Studies, including residential college seminars, may also count toward the major if approved by the director of undergraduate studies. Qualified students may elect pertinent courses in the Graduate School with the permission of the instructor, the director of graduate studies, and the director of undergraduate studies.

Senior requirement Every major must write a senior essay in RSEE 490, 491. At the beginning of the senior year, students enroll in RSEE 490 and arrange for a faculty member to serve as senior adviser. By the third Friday of October, majors submit a detailed prospectus of the essay, with bibliography, to the adviser. A draft of at least ten pages of the text of the essay, or a detailed outline of the entire essay, is due to the adviser by the last day of reading period of the fall semester. The student provides the adviser with a form that the adviser signs to notify the director of undergraduate studies that the first-term requirements for the senior essay have been met. Failure to meet these requirements results in loss of credit for RSEE 490. The senior essay takes the form of a substantial article, no longer than 13,000 words, excluding footnotes and bibliography. Three copies of the essay are due in the Slavic departmental office by April 14, 2017. A member of the faculty other than the adviser grades the essay.

Study and travel Students should be aware of opportunities for study and travel in Russia and eastern Europe. The director of undergraduate studies can provide information on these programs and facilitate enrollment. Students who spend all or part of the academic year in the region participating in established academic programs usually receive Yale College credit, and are strongly encouraged to take advantage of study abroad opportunities during summers or through the Year or Term Abroad program. Students wishing to travel abroad as part of the major should consult the director of undergraduate studies.

M.A. program The European and Russian Studies program does not offer the simultaneous award of the B.A. and M.A. degrees. However, students in Yale College are eligible to complete the M.A. in European and Russian Studies (with concentration in Russia and eastern Europe) in one year of graduate work. Students interested in this option must complete eight graduate courses in the area by the time they complete the bachelor's degree. Only two courses may be counted toward both the graduate degree and the undergraduate major. Successful completion of graduate courses while still an undergraduate does not guarantee admission into the M.A. program. Students must submit the standard application for admission to the M.A. program.


Prerequisite or corequisite Demonstrated proficiency in Russian or intermediate-level ability in an East European lang

Number of courses 13 term courses (incl senior essay and specified lang courses)

Distribution of courses 1 course in Russian or East European hist approved by DUS; at least 1 course in social sciences

Senior requirement Senior essay (RSEE 490, 491)

RSEE 254b / LITR 245b / RUSS 254b, Novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky Vladimir Alexandrov

Close reading of major novels by two of Russia's greatest authors. Focus on the interrelations of theme, form, and literary-cultural context. Readings and discussion in English.  HU

* RSEE 267a / HIST 276Ja / HUMS 260a / RSEE 276, Modernism and Postmodernism in Eastern Europe Marci Shore

Intellectual history of twentieth-and twenty-first century literature and philosophy in Eastern Europe, exploring modernism, postmodernism, and the significance of the break between them. Some background in East European history, or intellectual history, literary theory, or continental philosophy expected.  WR, HU

* RSEE 300b / CZEC 301b / LITR 220b, Milan Kundera: The Czech Novelist and French Thinker Karen von Kunes

Close reading of Kundera's novels, with analysis of his aesthetics and artistic development. Relationships to French, German, and Spanish literatures and to history, philosophy, music, and art. Topics include paradoxes of public and private life, the irrational in erotic behavior, the duality of body and soul, the interplay of imagination and reality, the function of literary metaphor, and the art of composition. Readings and discussion in English.  HUTr

* RSEE 327a / FILM 409a / LITR 306a / RUSS 327a, The Danube in Literature and Film Marijeta Bozovic

The Danube River in the film, art, and literature of various Danubian cultural traditions, from the late nineteenth century to the present. Geography and history of the region that includes the river's shores and watershed; physical, historical, and metaphoric uses of the Danube; the region as a contested multilingual, multicultural, and multinational space, and as a quintessential site of cross-cultural engagement. Readings and discussion in English.  WR, HUTr

* RSEE 374b / PLSC 374b, Language Politics Volodymyr Kulyk

Various aspects of language politics on the levels of the state, international organizations, non-state entities, and individual citizens. Analysis of official documents, everyday practices, and underlying beliefs informing them. Examination of various domains such as education, public administration, media, churches, workplace, and family.  SO

RSEE 390b / HIST 237b / RUSS 241b, Russian Culture: The Modern Age Paul Bushkovitch and John MacKay

An interdisciplinary exploration of Russian cultural history, focusing on literature, art, religion, social and political thought, and film. Conceptions of Russian nationhood; the myths of St. Petersburg; dissent and persecution; the role of social and cultural elites; the intelligentsia; attitudes toward the common people; conflicting appeals of rationality, spirituality, and idealism; the politicization of personal life; the impact of the Bolshevik Revolution and its aftermath. Readings and discussion in English.  HU

* RSEE 490a and RSEE 491b, The Senior Essay Staff

Preparation of the senior essay under faculty supervision. The essay grade becomes the grade for both terms of the course. Required of all seniors majoring in Russian and East European Studies. Credit for RSEE 490 only on completion of RSEE 491.

Related Courses That Count toward the Major

Students are encouraged to examine the offerings in Slavic Languages and Literatures and other departments, as well as residential college seminars, for additional related courses that may count toward the major.

* ANTH 438b, Culture, Power, Oil Douglas Rogers

The production, circulation, and consumption of petroleum as they relate to globalization, empire, cultural performance, natural resource extraction, and the nature of the state. Case studies include the United States, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela, and the former Soviet Union.  SO
Anthropology: Sociocultural

HIST 263a, Eastern Europe to 1914 Timothy Snyder

Eastern Europe from the medieval state to the rise of modern nationalism. The Ottoman Empire, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Hapsburg monarchy, and various native currents. Themes include religious diversity, the constitution of empire, and the emergence of secular political ideologies.  HU

HIST 264b, Eastern Europe since 1914 Timothy Snyder

Eastern Europe from the collapse of the old imperial order to the enlargement of the European Union. Main themes include world war, nationalism, fascism, and communism. Special attention to the structural weaknesses of interwar nation-states and postwar communist regimes. Nazi and Soviet occupation as an age of extremes. The collapse of communism. Communism after 1989 and the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the 1990s as parallel European trajectories.  HU

* HIST 270Jb, Philosophy of History in Central Europe Marci Shore

Ways in which central European philosophers before, during, and after the communist period grappled with the meaning of history, the role of the individual within history, and the space for ethics within historical determinism. Philosophy of history as an aspect of, and response to, the totalitarian experiments of the twentieth century.  WR, HU