Russian Language, Literature and Culture

Students who pursue a course of study in the Department of Russian Language, Literature, and Culture will explore Russia’s extraordinarily rich literary and cultural terrain; develop linguistic and cultural competence in its beautiful expressive language; and become engaged and effective thinkers and writers.


Our faculty are both scholars and teachers who devote their careers to making important contributions to their disciplines through writing and research. Russian faculty interests are broad and interdisciplinary: Tom Newlin specializes in 19th-century Russian literature and culture, as well as Russian representations of the natural world; Tim Scholl, known internationally as a scholar of Russian dance (19th-20th centuries), also emphasizes late imperial and early 20th-century traditions of Russian modernism and drama.

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Department Overview

We are a small department that addresses a big topic: Russia. We pride ourselves on the close individual attention we give to our students; this is a department where you will not get lost in the shuffle.  We also believe strongly in keeping things fun.

Our mission is threefold:

  1.  to help our students explore Russia’s extraordinarily rich literary and cultural traditions;
  2.  to provide practical training designed to develop linguistic and cultural competence in its beautiful and complex language; and
  3.  to enable our students to become engaged and effective thinkers and writers.  

The teaching and research interests of the Russian faculty are interdisciplinary, and we maintain close ties with departments and programs in comparative literature, cinema, environmental studies, history, Jewish studies, politics, sociology, and theater. We offer one of the most diverse arrays of courses of any undergraduate Russian department in the country, both in the original Russian and in translation, on literature, theater, dance, film, and visual culture.  

Our multiyear sequence of language courses gives you firm grounding in spoken and written Russian. We place particular emphasis on building functional communicative skills necessary to live, study, and or conduct research in Russia. Majors and non-majors can study abroad for a semester or a year in an Oberlin-affiliated program in Russia (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Irkutsk, Yaroslavl) or Eastern Europe (Prague, Budapest, Warsaw).

Graduates enter such top graduate schools as Columbia University, Wisconsin University, Brown University, Yale University, and the University of California, Berkeley. Others have pursued careers in teaching, government, law, journalism, library science, and international business.

Spring 2020 Course Offerings

View the related Russian and East European Studies Program

Russian Language, Literature and Culture News

Winter Term in Oberlin: 2020

February 24, 2020

Winter Term is a time of year when Oberlin students are encouraged to conduct independent or group projects outside of courses related to their majors. Pursuits can be done on or off campus with students choosing to work almost anywhere on the map. This year we highlight some of the work by the more than 900 students who completed projects in Oberlin.
Two students look at  book with a picture of a large basket in it.

Russian Language, Literature and Culture Facilities

Peters Hall

World language classrooms and offices for academic services and programs are found in this picturesque building completed in 1887 and renovated in 1996.
Peters Hall

Russian House (Allencroft)

Russian House (Allencroft) is a coeducational residence that supports students’ study of Russian language. It is the college’s oldest residence hall, built in 1861 at the start of the American Civil War.
front outside view of small brick house with extended front porch.