Russian and East European Studies

Directors of undergraduate studies: John Mackay, 2702 HGS, 432-7202, [F]; Edyta Bojanowska, 2705 HGS, 432-1301, [Sp]; language coordinator: Irina Dolgova, 2704A HGS, 432-1307,; slavicdepartment/rsee

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.

Requirements of the Major

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 DUS 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 DUS. 

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 160161); (2) passing a written examination to demonstrate equivalent ability; or (3) completing a literature course taught in Russian and approved by the DUS. 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 DUS); or (2) by passing a language examination demonstrating equivalent ability. Students are encouraged to learn more than one language.

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 DUS 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 12, 2019. A member of the faculty other than the adviser grades the essay.


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.

Graduate work 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.

Study Abroad

Students should be aware of opportunities for study and travel in Russia and eastern Europe. The DUS 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 DUS.


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 science

Senior requirement Senior essay (RSEE 490, 491)

Russian and East European Studies encompasses the history, literature, politics, economics, social organization, and culture of Russia, the non-Russian portions of the former Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe. Majors design individual courses of study that reflect the interdisciplinary nature of Russian and East European Studies.

Courses taught in English and suitable for first-year students include:

Students who plan to focus on Russia and the former Soviet Union should take RUSS 110 and RUSS 120, or RUSS 125 as first-year students and RUSS 145 as sophomores. Those specializing in Eastern Europe should take introductory Czech, Polish, Romanian, Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, or Ukrainian as early as possible. Students interested in taking another Eastern European language should contact the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) regarding availability.

Every major takes at least one course in Russian or East European history and at least one in a social science. Majors are encouraged to study in Russia and Eastern Europe, and they should consult the DUS in the fall about programs for study abroad. See the Center for Language Study Website for information about placement examinations.


Professors Sergei Antonov (History), Edyta Bojanowska (Slavic Languages & Literatures), Paul Bushkovitch (History), Katerina Clark (Comparative Literature, Slavic Languages & Literatures), John Gaddis (History), Harvey Goldblatt (Slavic Languages & Literatures), John MacKay (Slavic Languages & Literatures, Film & Media Studies), Timothy Snyder (History)

Associate Professors Molly Brunson (Slavic Languages & Literatures), Jason Lyall (Political Science), Douglas Rogers (Anthropology), Marci Shore (History)

Assistant Professors Marijeta Bozovic (Slavic Languages & Literatures, Film and Media Studies, Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies), Marta Figlerowicz (Comparative Literature and English)

Senior Lectors II Irina Dolgova, Constantine Muravnik

Senior Lectors Krystyna Illakowicz, Julia Titus, Karen von Kunes


* RSEE 222b / HIST 222Jb, Russia and the Eurasian SteppePaul Bushkovitch

A study of Russia's interaction with the nomads of the Eurasian steppe. Topics include the Mongol invasion, the Mongol Empire in Asia and the Golden Horde, Islam, nomadic society, and the Russian state. Focus on conquest and settlement. May count toward either European or Asian distributional credit within the History major, upon application to the director of undergraduate studies.  WR, HU
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

RSEE 225a / HIST 290a, Russia from the Ninth Century to 1801Paul Bushkovitch

The mainstream of Russian history from the Kievan state to 1801. Political, social, and economic institutions and the transition from Eastern Orthodoxy to the Enlightenment.  HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

* RSEE 231a / HIST 221Ja, Russia in the Age of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, 1850-1905Sergei Antonov

Russian politics, culture, and society ca. 1850 to 1905. Tsars’ personalities and ruling styles, political culture under autocracy. Reform from above and revolutionary terror. Serfdom and its abolition, problem of “traditional” Russian culture. Growth of industrial and financial capitalism, middle-class culture, and daily life. Foreign policy and imperial conquest, including the Caucasus and the Crimean War (1853-56). Readings combine key scholarly articles, book chapters, and representative primary sources. All readings and discussions in English.  WR, HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* RSEE 246b / RUSS 246b, Love and Death in the Russian Short StoryEdyta Bojanowska

A brilliant counterpart to the expansive Russian novel, the Russian short story is held in high esteem by the genre’s connoisseurs and practitioners. This course explores both the classics and the hidden gems of the Russian short-story tradition from the 19th century to today, focusing on the most universal themes of story-writing: love and death. The course poses the following questions: What is distinctive about the short story form? How do stories "talk to" other stories in a tradition? What narrative twists and complications do authors use to keep readers hooked and spellbound? The readings cover most major Russian writers and movements, so the course provides a good overview of modern Russian literature. All readings and discussion in English.  WR, HU
MW 1pm-2:15pm

* RSEE 300b / CZEC 301b / LITR 220b, Milan Kundera: The Czech Novelist and French ThinkerKaren 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
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

RSEE 400a / PLSC 400a, Legacies of Communism and Conflict in EuropeAndrea Aldrich

This course examines the challenges of democratic transition and consolidation in Europe in an exciting way using contemporary and historical political research, documentary and dramatic film, a graphic non-fiction novel, and a field trip to MOMA in NYC (optional). Together we explore political themes like authoritarianism, state collapse, nationalism, ethnic conflict, transitional justice, and democratic development through the turbulent political history of Southeastern Europe, which provides a solid theoretical foundation for the understanding of past and current events around the world.  SO
TTh 9am-10:15am

* RSEE 490a and RSEE 491b, The Senior EssayStaff

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.