German, Russian, & Classical Studies

Overview | Requirements | Courses | Faculty


The study of a culture through its language offers insights into unfamiliar worlds which cannot be realized in any other way; such study is one of the distinguishing features of a liberal arts education. Moreover, competence in a language other than English can provide a decided advantage for any post-graduate education or career objective. In addition to literature courses, various culture courses (some taught in the language of study, others in English) make aspects of this cultural tradition available to all students.

The Department also strongly encourages all students to investigate Occidental's opportunities for study abroad. In recent years, students from a wide variety of departments, including the sciences, have taken advantage of these programs, greatly enhancing their education and future opportunities. These programs exemplify Occidental's ideal of a liberal education that increases sensitivity to and appreciation of other cultures.



MINOR: Five courses (20 units) numbered German 202 and above. Three of the five courses must be completed as Occidental courses.

GROUP LANGUAGE MAJOR: Students may combine German with another language (Chinese, French, Japanese, Russian, Spanish) or with Linguistics into a Group Language major by taking at least five courses (20 units) numbered 202 and above in German (two of which can be taken, upon faculty approval, in related areas such as history, art history, politics, language learning/linguistics), and five courses (20 units) in the other language. Students planning a Group Language major are encouraged to participate in Occidental's programs sbroad as part of their plan of study. Interested students should consult with faculty in both languages before entering the group program.

WRITING REQUIREMENT AND COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT: The specifics of the writing requirement and the comprehensive requirement will be determined by the advisors of the student's two languages at the time the student declares the Group Language major. See the Writing Program for more information about the College's writing requirement.


MINOR: Five courses (20 units) numbered Russian 202 and above. Three of the five courses must be completed as Occidental courses.

GROUP LANGUAGE MAJOR: Students may combine Russian with another language (Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Spanish) or with Linguistics into a Group Language major by taking at least five courses (20 units) numbered 202 and above in Russian (two of which can be in related areas such as history, art history, politics, language learning/linguistics), and five courses (20 units) in the other language. Students planning a Group Language major are encouraged to participate in Occidental's programs abroad as part of their plan of study. Interested students should consult with faculty in both languages before entering the group program.

Classical Studies

Please see the Classical Studies area of the catalog for information on minoring in Classical Studies. Classics minor


Classical Studies

Please see the Classical Studies area of the catalog for information on minoring in Classical Studies. Classics minor

202 - The Wake of the Ancient

The object of this course (as the three- or four-fold pun of its title implies) is not only to celebrate Ancient Literature on the occasion of its supposed passing, but also to highlight the ways in which Ancient Literature has informed the creation of-- and might yet continue to re- inform our understanding of--many subsequent forms of literary expression. The course will begin, therefore, with the close textual analysis of one or more ancient literary works, and proceed with a comparative study of a text (or texts) drawn from later literary traditions, most particularly modern and contemporary treatments (the manifold ways for instance that Joyce draws upon Homer, Derrida upon Plato).

222 - Myth: the Greco-Roman gods

This course is a survey of Greco-Roman myth with a particular focus on the representation, function, and meaning of the gods. Students will study these myths in their original socio-historic contexts but a large portion of the course will be devoted to a historic survey of modern theories of myth. This approach will allow students to appreciate myth’s relation to the various ritual, philosophic, and artistic contexts in which they appear, both in the ancient world and beyond.

223 - The hero in Ancient Greece and Rome

This course will focus on ancient heroes in Greek and Roman myth, such as Hercules, Theseus, Jason, and those featured in the Trojan War. Ancient heroes partake of both the divine and mortal realms and as such, help us appreciate the ways in which myths were used in order to interpret the world. We will consider the nature of the heroic through the depictions of ancient writers and artists and consider modern heroic ideals in relation to them.

292 - Love's Song--A History

In this course we will trace the European history of what we today call "love," from Ancient Greece to the Renaissance, and shall do so through a careful examination of the literature that sought to give expression to this ever-changeable and ever-provoking concept: the lyrics of Sappho, the dialogues of Plato, the satirically erotic "technical manuals" of Ovid, the Gospels of Christianity, the troubled Confessions of Augustine, the courtly tales of knights in the Middle Ages, and the great all-encompassing journey of Dante's through heaven and hell in the Divine Comedy. Significant attention will be paid to the way each of these works continues to contribute to our own modern notions of love, in all their ecstatic, heartbreaking, inspiring and frustrating complexity.

303 - Genres in Classical Literature

This course examines the meanings, effects, social contexts and historic development of one of the major Classical genres: epic, lyric, tragedy, comedy, (to name but a few). In 2014-2015, the course will focus on the explosion of new literary genres (romantic comedy, in particular, but also biography, the anecdote, and philosophic dialogue) that followed in the wake of Alexander the Great's conquest of Greece, and the subsequent demise of the autonomous Greek city state. Attention will also be given to the long term effects of these new "Hellenistic" genres on subsequent European literary and cultural history, as it was primarily the Hellenistic sensibility (not the Archaic or Classical) that for the next 2000 years that was understood to be representative of the "Ancient Greek" perspective.


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101 - Elementary German I

Introduces basic language skills, grammar, pronunciation, oral communication, and reading simple prose. Culture taught through readings, videos, and discussions.

102 - Elementary German II

Continuation of German 101.

151 - Beginning/Intermediate Conversation I

Oral practice based on articles in current periodicals and other subjects of general interest. Taught by a German language assistant from the University of the Saarland, under the supervision of a German instructor. Designed primarily for students who have completed German 102. Graded on Credit/No Credit basis; attendance is mandatory. Approximately two hours of work outside of class time required each week. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: German 102 or permission of instructor.
1 unit

152 - Beginning/Intermediate Conversation II

Continuation of 151. Designed primarily for students who have completed German 102. Graded on Credit/No Credit basis; attendance is mandatory. Approximately two hours of work outside of class time required each week. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: German 102, German 151, or permission of instructor.
1 unit

201 - Intermediate German

An advanced course to build up comprehension as well as oral and writing skills. Reading and discussion of literary and cultural texts, supplemented with video films and T.V. news on current events in Germany. Practice in essay writing. Prerequisite: German 102 or equivalent.

202 - German Stylistics

Continuation of German 201 on an advanced level. Review of advanced German grammar and exercises in stylistics and essay writing. Prerequisite: German 201 or permission of instructor.

232 - Contemporary Germany: Culture and Society After 1945

This course covers major trends and developments of the cultural history of post­war Germany. Topics include the reconstruction of culture after 1945, the makeup of cultural institutions, the mass media, popular culture vs. traditional culture, the counter culture of the sixties and early seventies, and the problems of unification after 1989. Taught in German, with emphasis on oral presentations and essay writing. Readings include literary texts and documentary material, newspaper and magazine articles. Prerequisite: German 201 or permission of instructor.

251 - Advanced Conversation I

Open to all qualified students, but designed primarily for students preparing for Occidental-in-Germany program. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: German 152 or permission of instructor.
1 unit

252 - Advanced Conversation II

Continuation of 251. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: German 251 or permission of instructor.
1 unit

273 - The Culture of Weimar

This course will analyze the political, social and cultural changes in German history after 1918 and will provide an introduction to the wealth of the innovative literary and artistic production of the so-called Twenties. We will focus on the difficult transition from the old monarchy to a parliamentary democracy, the economic and political challenges of the new republic and its slow demise in the early thirties. Some lead topics will be: the rise of film and other forms of popular culture, the styles of Expressionism and Neue Sachlichkeit, the experience of the city, the emancipation of women, and the fight against the onslaught of fascist tendencies. We will read texts by Bertolt Brecht, Ernst Toller, Erich Kästner, Irmgard Keun, Marieluise Fleisser, Kurt Tucholsky, see films (such as Nosferatu, Metropolis, Kuhle Wampe and others) and study the new trends in architecture (Bauhaus), the arts (Beckmann, Kirchner, Heartfield), photography, music and the media. The course is taught in English. German minors and group majors will read some of the texts in the German original. Prerequisite for German minors and group majors: German 201 or permission of instructor.

280 - Metropolis: The Modern City as Vision, Text, and Experience

The onset of industrialization in the 19th century created the modern metropolis and the angst and attraction of the lifestyle that went with it. In this course we will examine how writers and intellectuals of the late 19th and early 20th century described their experience of this new urban environment--analyzing their discoveries and discontents. In addition to fiction by Rainer M. Rilke, Emile Zola, Irmgard Keun, Alfred Döblin, Walter Benjamin and others, we will also discuss seminal texts by architects, urban planners and theorists and look at how visual artists and filmmakers depicted the emerging streetscape of modernity. Students will have the opportunity to explore the impact of modern urbanization in a contemporary and global context through field trips and class projects. The course is taught in English. This course is not open to 1st year students

282 - Nazi Visual Culture

The rise and fall of National Socialism is one of the most intensively studied topics in European history. Over six decades after its collapse, Nazi Germany continues to fascinate the general public, and with good reason. Although the fascist state lasted only for twelve years, it started history's most destructive war while committing crimes of unprecedented proportions. For the most part, it did so with the acquiescence of the German public. This class will investigate the rise of National Socialism as a political, social, and cultural phenomenon. The central focus will be on the decisive role of film and the visual arts as most popular means of mass manipulation. Prerequisite: 1st year students cannot enroll in this class.

288 - The Neo-Nazi Movement

Decades after the fall of Nazi Germany, there is a growing concern that the spirit of Nazism still lives on. The Neo-Nazi movement continues to exist in Germany. A recent report revealed that one out of twenty 15-year- old boys belong to a Neo-Nazi group. Neo-Nazism is not an exclusively German phenomenon, though - we find similar developments in other European countries, in Canada, and in the US. This course will track the activities of Neo-Nazis in Germany from 1990 to the present. We will analyze the impact of unification on the growth of right wing militancy throughout Germany, and examine examples of Neo-Nazi and skinhead activities as well as the efforts of various governments to control this movement. A key question will be why exactly young people between 15 and 30 are drawn to these groups who often use and develop sophisticated networks. Finally, the question will be asked what the most effective means of combating these movements would or should be. Prerequisite: Sophomore status or higher.

320 - Probing the Limits of Representation: The Holocaust

Probing the Limits of Representation: The Holocaust in Literature and Film The Holocaust has been positioned at the limits of representation -- as the indescribable, the incomprehensible. The impossibility of adequately expressing the atrocities of the Holocaust stands in contrast to the need to transmit knowledge about this event to later generations. Attempts to represent the Holocaust, to describe and understand this event and its implications, are numerous and have occurred across a wide range of media forms (literature, film, photography, art, music, monuments, etc.), and genres (as in documentary, drama, comedy, science fiction). As the Holocaust recedes in time and the numbers of living historical witnesses and survivors decline, these representations increasingly shape our perception and understanding of the event. This course will investigate literary, filmic, and artistic representations of the Holocaust, focusing in particular on questions of ethics, aesthetics and history. We will begin with a historical survey and then turn to examining the various debates and controversies surrounding the issue of representation of the Shoah and discuss some of the theoretical texts that have shaped the area of Holocaust Studies. Finally, we will explore the ways in which these written, filmic, and artistic cultural artifacts have attempted to narrate the events of the Holocaust, and examine exemplary responses to the Shoah in a variety of media forms and genres. The course will deal with questions of ethics and aesthetics, such as the meaning of art and the limits of historical representation. What are the aesthetic and ethical implications of creating art about the Holocaust? Does all representation entail an aestheticization of horror? What are the implications of the commercialization of the Holocaust? Students will obtain a basic grasp of the historical events; they will gain an interdisciplinary, personalized, historical, and cultural understanding of this genocide; and are exposed to ongoing debates regarding the limits of representation of the Holocaust. The course is taught in English. Prerequisite: 202 or 232 for German minors and Group Language majors. SAME AS ECLS 359

325 - Crisis in Europe

The European project - i.e. the gradual unification of the continent - which had been successful for decades seems to undergo a fundamental crisis at present. This crisis has different aspects. Primarily, it has to do with the economic inequities within the European Union which became tangible in the aftermath of the world economic crisis of 2008. In its wake, the “weaker” economies, mostly at the periphery, were more affected than the stronger ones. But there also other problems, such as the lack of democratic structures as well as strong leadership, the weight of a centralized bureaucracy, and the lack of a European public sphere. The course will take a look at the achievements of the European Union , the multiple reasons for its current crisis and the various attempts to overcome it. Prerequisite: Open to juniors and seniors

370 - Seminar on a Selected Topic

Bertolt Brecht and the Twenties. Bertolt Brecht is one of the most influential playwrights and aesthetic thinkers of the 20th century. In order to understand the scope and dimension of his work and its world wide influence this course will focus on the artistic development of young Bertolt Brecht who, in the early Twenties, moved to Berlin, the capital of newly founded democratic Weimar Republic and one of the most important cultural centers of the 20th century, and participated in practically all innovative tendencies and art forms of the time, from Expressionism and Dadaism to New Objectivity, from experimental theatre to radio and film. Some of his great early works, such as the "Three Penny Opera", will be seen in the context of the time, especially the very turbulent last years of the Weimar Republic before Hitler's rise to power. We will also look at Brecht's legendary film "Kuhle Wampe" and visit at least one contemporary production of a Brecht play staged at a theatre in Los Angeles.

Bertolt Brecht: The Great Plays. Brecht's great plays changed the stage of world theatre. In order to understand and appreciate their powerful and long lasting influence, all major plays written during Brecht's exile, i.e. in the years between 1933, when he was driven out of Germany, and 1948, when he returned to Switzerland and ultimately Berlin, will be discussed. Aside from detailed analyses of plays such as "Mother Courage", "The Good Woman of Sezuan", "The Caucasian Chalk Circle", or "Life of Galilei" Brecht's developing theory of epic theatre and the general conditions and dilemmas of exile will be discussed. We will also look at Brecht's role in Hollywood, his collaboration on the film "Hangmen Also Die", and his successful attempts to direct his own plays on German and European stages after 1950. Students minoring in German, or majoring in Group Languages or IPS will read most of the texts in the original. Prerequisite for German minor and Group Language majors: German 202 or 232. Open to all other non-first year students. The course is taught in English, no knowledge of German is required.

Memory, Trauma, and Victim Culture This course is concerned with the cultural politics of memory and trauma after the catastrophic events of the Holocaust and World War II. We will start with basic questions, such as: Whose memories are sought, and commemorated in the public sphere? What problems do traumatic events present for those attempting to represent them? Is trauma a useful cultural concept? What are the differences between individual and collective memory? The first part of the course analyzes memory and trauma on both the individual level and the collective level, and turns then to the specific processes that occur when traumatic events are remembered by survivors as well
as the collective processes involved when memories of traumatic events, such as the Holocaust, are shared with an audience who has no first-hand experience of them.- The second part of the course aims to identify the recent fascination, especially in European and American culture, with the phenomenon of trauma, suffering and victimhood. We will study the cultural politics of trauma and memory in relation to two events - the Holocaust and German suffering during World War II. The unit "Holocaust victimhood and American-Jewish identity" explores how the kitsch nature of popular culture representations of the Holocaust (from the Anne Frank movie of to the very successful TV-series Holocaust to the Hollywood movie Schindler's List) created the paradigm for trauma culture at large. The unit "Germans in collective memory between perpetrators and victims" discusses contemporary German memory discourse which primarily focuses on the experience of German suffering as a consequence of the war and the Third Reich.
However, to recast Germans as victim is highly problematic since the position of victim is already occupied by those people who were persecuted and murdered by the Germans/Nazis. Memory, trauma, and victimhood are crucial aspects of the experiences of Jews and Germans after 1945. A systematic exploration of these aspects (as manifested in a broad variety of cultural forms) promises important insights into recent history and culture.
Offered in spring 2012

Nazi Culture.  After the Nazis came to power in 1933, they took over control of all aspects of German life. One of the first tasks the new government undertook upon their ascension to power was a synchronization of all professional and social organizations with Nazi ideology and policy. Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, began an effort to bring German arts and culture in line with Nazi goals.
The government purged cultural organizations of Jewish and other officials alleged to be politically suspect or who performed or created art works which Nazi ideologues labeled "degenerate." Some 650 works by such renowned artists as Max Beckmann, Marc Chagall, Otto Dix, Wassily Kandinsky, and Paul Klee were declared "degenerate art" and removed from German museums. The Nazi "cultivation of art" also extended to the modern field of cinema, theater, music, architecture, youth education, and even to the lower levels of popular culture. Throughout the duration of the Nazi regime, ‘culture' in all its manifestations played a crucial role. Political rallies, military parades, sports events, open air festivals, and other skillfully organized events were used from the beginning to suggest a "national awakening" and the "revolutionary spirit" of the new regime. The efforts of the Nazis to regulate German culture corresponded to what historian George Mosse calls an effort "toward a total culture," i.e. an effort to influence at the most basic level the lives and actions of all Germans. This course will explore the various forms of culture during this time and will raise the question to what extent ‘Nazi culture,' or culture under Nazi domination, was capable of stabilizing the regime until its very end in 1945.
German minors and group language majors have to complete either German 202 or 232 since they will read some of the material in German.
Offered in fall 2011

Marx, Freud, and the Frankfurt School. This seminar will explore the origins of the world famous Frankfurt School, a group of German social philosophers and theoreticians which emerged at the Institute for Social research of the University of Frankfurt am Main in the 1920s who wanted a) to analyze the conditions of modern capitalism and its impact on society in general, on family and social structures, value systems and mass culture, b) critically review the theories of Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Max Weber, and c) to establish the principles and foundations of a ‘critical theory.' We'll read and discuss major works by Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Siegfried Kracauer, Leo Loewenthal and others. The seminar will focus on the ‘first phase' of the Frankfurt School, its beginnings and its work and development during the thirties and forties - when the school relocated to New York and many of its collaborators lived in other American cities or abroad - and the immediate post WWII period. (A second seminar will follow next year and explore the school's development and its world wide impact in the sixties and seventies.) The course is taught in English. Students minoring or majoring in German will read some of the original texts (especially Marx, Freud, Benjamin, and Kracauer) in German. Prereauisite:Restricted to Junior/senior.  Same as CTSJ 370

The Frankfurt School, 1945 to the Present.  Social Analysis, Cultural Theory, and Political Action. This seminar will explore the history of the Frankfurt School after World War II when it was re-established in Frankfurt and began to play a crucial role in the development of a ‘critical theory' of society and culture during the West German ‘economical miracle;' afterwards, with the onset of the German (and international) student movement of the mid-Sixties, it gained international reputation and impacted social, political, and cultural discourses in countries like France, Great Britain, Italy, or the United States. We will study primarily some of the major writings of Th. W. Adorno (especially on art, music, cultural theory, and the lessons of Fascism), H. Marcuse (whose writings on social theory and aesthetics, on ‘repressive tolerance' and ‘liberation' exerted a strong influence on the student movement), and of J. Habermas who became one of the most influential European intellectuals in the decades after 1970. This seminar is the continuation of an earlier class on the beginnings of the Frankfurt School and its history until 1945; participation in that earlier seminar is not required. The course is taught in English. Students minoring in German or majoring in Group Language or IPS will read some of the original texts in German.

397 - Independent Study in German

Individual study of a major author, movement, genre, or translation techniques. For students with advanced competence who seek study in an area not included in the department's curriculum. Prerequisite: permission of department.
2 or 4 units


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101 - Elementary Greek I

Study of Alphabet, pronunciation, grammar and culture of ancient Greece. Particularly useful for science majors and pre-medical students.
5 units

102 - Elementary Greek II

Continuation of Greek 101 and reading of adapted Greek texts.
5 units

201 - Topics in Classical Philology (Greek)

Homer's epics feature some of the best known and varied heroes of antiquity, like Achilles, Hector, Odysseus, and Penelope. In this class we will read selections from the "Odyssey" and "Iliad" as a way to examine ancient conceptions of heroism. For students studying ancient Greek this will primarily be a translation course and will serve as an introduction to epic poetry. Students without Greek are also welcome and can expect to approach the topics of the class by reading translated texts and modern scholarship. Prerequisite: Greek 102.
4 units.
Core requirement met: Europe, pre-1800.

300 - Women, Power, and Violence in Greek Literature

This course will focus on two of the most powerful and most feared women in Greek literature, Medea and Clytemnestra. We will examine these women in an ancient and modern literary context by reading Homer, Aeschylus, Euripides, Apollonius, and selections from contemporary scholars. No knowledge of Greek is required.

397 - Independent Study in Greek

Prerequisite: permission of the department.
2 or 4 units


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260 - Language Learning by Acting

This new interdisciplinary course is an introduction into theater and drama methods in language teaching, such as improvisation (based on Keith Johnston, Augusto Boal, and others), German and Swiss Drama pedagogy (based on Felix Rellstab, Ulrike Hentschel, and others), TPR (Total Physical Response, James J. Asher), Biomechanics (based on Wsewolod Meyerhold), and others. We will begin with practical tryouts and discussions on the methods used. Specific Drama Pedagogy in language learning studies (Elektra Tselikas, Manfred Schewe) will be included in the theoretical reflection part of the class. This teaching approach can be applied to different languages depending on the students' backgrounds. A practical application, in conjunction with CCBL, is scheduled for the following year. The course is open to all students interested in language learning and teaching, ESL, theatre, education, and CCBL. Prerequisite: one year in Language instruction at Occidental or the equivalent.

355 - Sociolinguistics

This course provides an overview of the field of sociolinguistics. We will discuss Language in its social context and will examine how social and contextual factors influence language choice. Both quantitative methods as well as qualitative methods will be discussed. Prerequisite: Ling 301


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101 - Elementary Latin

Introduction to language and culture of ancient Rome. Recommended for students wishing to improve their English vocabulary and grammar.
5 units

102 - Elementary and Intermediate Latin

Continuation of Latin 101 and reading and interpretation of an original text.
5 units

201 - Topics in Classical Philology (Latin)

Advanced readings in Latin literature and/or philology, in coordination with a classics course in ECLS (or another department affiliated with the classics pogram). Prerequisite: Latin 102.
4 units
Core requirement met: Europe, pre-1800.

300 - War, Love, and Sacrifice in Latin Literature

The Romans to a large extent adopted the literary genres of the Greeks before them. In Roman hands, however, the genres of epic and tragedy evolved to reflect contemporary literary tastes and the emergence of Rome as the dominant power in the Mediterranean. In this course, we will consider the themes of war, love and sacrifice in Latin literature by reading Vergil's Aeneid, the little Iliad in Ovid's Metamorphoses and Seneca's Trojan Women. Students will explore the differences between "Golden and Silver Age" Latin epic and round out their examination of the course's themes in the context of the tragic genre. No knowledge of Latin is needed (but is certainly welcome). No knowledge of Latin is needed. Same as ECLS 303

397 - Independent Study in Latin

Prerequisite: permission of the department.
2 or 4 units


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101 - Elementary Russian I

Introduction to the structure of the Russian language with an emphasis on reading and verbal communication. Films and laboratory assignments complement in-class work. May not be taken for credit by those with more than one year of high school study (grades 10, 11, 12) or one semester of college study of Russian.

102 - Elementary Russian II

Continuation of Russian 101; emphasis on reading and conversation. Prerequisite: Russian 101 or equivalent.

201 - Intermediate Russian I

Development of reading skills through the use of original texts by Bulgakov, Chekhov, Pushkin and others; improvement of conversation skills accompanied by a review and expansion of grammar. Films and laboratory assignments complement in-class work. Prerequisite: Russian 102 or equivalent.
5 units

202 - Intermediate Russian II

Continuation of Russian 201 with emphasis on reading skills; readings by Gogol, Chukovsky, Shukshin, and others. Prerequisite: Russian 201 or equivalent.
5 units

234 - From Pushkin to Chekhov: Russia's Great Century

Between 1800 and 1900, Russia went from a society without any real literature, theater or art to a world leader in all three areas. This course follows the rapid evolution of Russian artistic output by examing the poetry of Pushkin, the short stories of Gogol, the novels of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, and the great plays of Chekhov. Russia’s evolution in visual art will also be examined through the masterpieces of Repin and others. Course taught in English; no knowledge of Russian required.

274 - Russia's War Epics

Focusing on Russian literature’s greatest depictions of war, this course follows the evolution of war literature in Russia as it transforms from the folk epic to the Romantic tale of adventure to the bloody scenes of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, into the Modernist portrayal of moral ambiguity in Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry.

278 - In Stalin’s Time

Stalin was arguably the first totalitarian dictator who created the model for similar regimes in the twentieth century. This course describes the changes Stalin brought to Soviet society, the terrible consequences of his dictatorship, and the reaction of cultural figures criticized as they rebelled against the system. This course examines those movements through popular culture, film, literature, and first-hand testimony. The everyday life of Soviet citizens will be studied by looking at both permitted and forbidden forms of entertainment. The dissident movement that erupted in the 1960s and 1970s will be examined through the Sotsart artistic movement, as well as short stories that circulated underground throughout the late Soviet period. Finally, the course will look at Stalin’s legacy in Putin’s authoritarian Russia of the twenty-first century.

282 - Slavic Pagan Culture and its Legacy

The worldview and beliefs of the early Slavs, particularly the Eastern Slavs, were a complex synthesis of influences: Indo-European mythology, Central Asian shamanism, Scythian animal worship, and ultimately a “paganized” version of Christianity labeled by cultural historians as “dvoeverie” (double faith). This course examines all aspects of this culture as it developed in the years 800-1600 in order to understand how these people viewed the world and how this affected their lives and the development of Slavic culture. Communal village life, legends, folk genres, and mythology, their sources and their legacies, are examined. There is a close study of the phenomenon of the vampire, following its evolution from the Iron Age into eighteenth century Serbia, as a specific case study of how myths are born and persist. The ways in which pagan beliefs were incorporated into Christianity to create the “dual-faith” of the Russian peasant are examined as well. In addition to analytical and historical texts, readings include tales of supernatural beings and phenomena as well as testimony concerning encounters with the supernatural.

284 - Madness and Murder

An examination of the phenomenon of madness in Russian culture through literature and film. The main focus will be on the psychological literature of the 19th Century, including the the murder novels of Dostoevsky, as well as studies of madness by Lermontov, Gogol, Chekhov, and others. This trend in Russian literature will be related to pathological features of Russian history (Tsarism, Totalitarianism) to find underlying reasons why these features are so prevalent in the Russian arts. Films will include Tsar, concerning Ivan the Terrible, and Burnt By the Sun, a chronicle of the Stalinist terror.

340 - The Russian Avant-Garde and Soviet Modernism

Two of the most explosively important geo-political events of modernity were World War I and the Russian Revolution(s) of 1917. This course investigates the theories and practice of the Russian Avant-Garde in the visual arts, literature, industrial design and architecture in relation to parallel international developments during the Revolutionary period through the rise of Stalin in the early 1930s. Topics include: fragmentation and shifts in artistic perception of time, space and reality; responses to advances in science, technology and industry; constructivist design, architecture and theater; montage and cinema; consumerism and materiality; artist collectives, manifesti, and the relationship of theory and ideology; cultural imports from Europe and America. Same as ARTH 340

375 - Codes and Cultures in the 20th Century

Two intimately related schools of literary analysis from the early 20th Century, Russian Formalism and Prague Structuralism, staked out fundamentally new theoretical terrain by isolating the functional elements of verbal artistry as discrete objects of rigorous inquiry. Their works merit close inspection as representative of a big bang in theory and cultures of binary encoding that continues to expand and proliferate to this day, subsuming the visual arts, music, cinema, broadcast media, digital computation, the cognitive sciences and espionage. This course traces lines and shifts in the intellectual history of this brief moment through close reading of selected works, and situates theory in the biographies and broader social, cultural and political contexts of its key figures. Course taught in English; no knowledge of Russian required. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or higher

397 - Independent Study in Russian

Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
2 or 4 units


Regular Faculty

Damian Stocking, chair

Associate Professor, German, Russian, and Classical Studies Department

B.A., UC Berkeley; M.A., Ph.D., UCLA

Walter Richmond

Full Time Non Tenure Track Professor, German, Russian, and Classical Studies; Advisory Committee, Group Language

B.A., Arizona State University; M.A., Ph.D., USC

Jürgen Pelzer

Professor, German, Russian, and Classical Studies; Advisory Committee, Group Language

M.A., University of Constance; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin

On Special Appointment

Debra Freas

Adjunct Assistant Professor, German, Russian, and Classical Studies

B.A., University of Texas; Ph.D., UC Irvine