Russia Falls, the Soviet Union Rises: Imperial Beauty, Turmoil, and Tragedy

We are aware of missing faculty photos in the directory and catalog and will be updating them shortly. Thank you for your patience.

Winter 2019
Credits per quarter

Compare offerings and share your lists with others.

Taught by

Russian language and literature

This program emphasizes the Russian Empire’s extraordinary political, historical, literary, artistic, and musical developments of the 19th and early 20th centuries. We will explore literary masterpieces by Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Chekhov; examine paintings by Repin, Nesterov, and Vereshchagin; and listen to the compositions of Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Tchaikovsky. We will also examine the rise of the Russian Empire’s radical intelligentsia, who rebelled against autocratic tsarist policies and the institution of serfdom and whose activities led to the world-changing revolutions of the early 20th century.

Readings from social and revolutionary activists, such as Marx and Lenin, will allow us to better understand how these thinkers managed to transform the economically and socially backward Russian Empire into the planet’s most experimental and, at times, most feared political power. Our diverse readings from Russian and Soviet imperial literature and history will help us appreciate the cultural, social, and political nuances of this expansive, beguiling, and enigmatic land. We will read and discuss in seminar a diverse selection of historical and literary texts; view and discuss relevant documentaries and films; and write two major essays. A special all-program workshop in the art of pysanky (wax-resist egg decorating) will offer a hands-on Slavic folk art experience. 

Students will choose between Russian language study and a history workshop. The history workshop familiarizes students with Russia’s status as a multiethnic and multi-confessional empire. Students and faculty explore the myriad of nationalities within the expanding 19th century Russian Empire from the perspective of the Imperial government and from the viewpoint of the non-Russian peoples resident in the empire. We will consider the impact of growing Russian nationalistic discourse in the late 19th century and assess its role in the disintegration of the empire. A 12-credit option is available to students who do not wish to participate in the Russian language segment or the workshop; a 4-credit option is available to students wanting only the workshop or language segment. New language students will be accepted in the Beginning Russian Language segment if they have had one quarter of college-level or equivalent study of Russian.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: education, diplomatic and security services, film, music, art, international business, and graduate studies in international affairs and in Russian and Slavic literary, historical, political and social studies.          

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

$10 for supplies for a special folk craft workshop.


Students choosing the Russian language segment within the program must have at least one quarter of college-level Russian or the equivalent.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia