2015-2016 Russian Courses
Advanced Russian: Ivan Vasil’evich
This course is aimed at students who are beyond the second-year level of Russian. While we will continue some work with a textbook, our aim will be to move away from grammar and into active reading, writing, watching, and speaking in Russian. The large part of our course will center on our reading of Mikhail Bulgakov’s 1936 play, Ivan Vasil’evich, and our watching of the 1973 film adaptation, Ivan Vasil’evich meniaet professiiu; both play and film tell the story of a somewhat hapless scientist who succeeds in inventing a time machine. Other texts will include historical accounts: Sergei Eisenstein’s film, Ivan the Terrible; Mikhail Zoshchenko’s short story, Krizis; various films portraying the 1920s and the 1960s/70s and a short excerpt from Vladimir Voinovich’s Ivankiada. Over the course of the semester, we will also learn a number of popular and folk songs, along with the basics of Russian word morphology. Note that weekly conversation classes with the Russian assistant will be required, and attendance at Russian table is strongly encouraged. For students with two years of college Russian or the equivalent.
At the end of this course, students should feel that they have a fairly sophisticated grasp of Russian and the ability to communicate in Russian in any situation. After the first year of studying the language, students will have learned the bulk of Russian grammar; this course will emphasize grammar review, vocabulary accumulation, and regular oral practice. Class time will center on the spoken language, and students will be expected to participate actively in discussions based on new vocabulary. Regular written homework will be required, along with weekly conversation classes with the Russian assistant; attendance at Russian Table is strongly encouraged. Conference work will focus on the written language, and students will be asked to read short texts by the author(s) of their choice, with the aim of appreciating a very different culture and/or literature while learning to read independently, accurately, and with as little recourse to the dictionary as possible. Prerequisite: one year of college Russian or the equivalent.
At the end of this course, students will know the fundamentals of Russian grammar and will be able to use them to read, write, and, most especially, speak Russian on an elementary level. Successful language learning involves both creativity and a certain amount of rote learning; memorization gives the student the basis to then extrapolate, improvise, and have fun with the language. This course will lay equal emphasis on both. Our four hours of class each week will be spent actively using what we know in pair and group activities, dialogues, discussions, etc. Twice-weekly, written homework—serving both to reinforce old and to introduce new material—will be required. At the end of each semester, we will formalize—through small-group video projects—the principle of rigorous but creative communication that underlies all of our work. Students are required to attend weekly conversation classes with the Russian assistant; attendance at Russian Table is strongly encouraged.