A young woman with braids and flowers in her hair.
Program Overview

Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

Explore the vast and complex land where West meets East.

Yuliia Podstavniagina, 2018-2019 Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant, at the Russian department’s annual Maslenitsa festival, which ushers out winter and welcomes spring.
Photo credit: Michael Hartman

Gateway to a Region that is More Important than Ever in Today’s World

The Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Program explores the vast, complex, and extraordinarily diverse region that stretches from Eastern Europe and the Baltics through European Russia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia to Siberia and the Russian Far East. Our approach is at once intellectually adventurous and pragmatic, with a curriculum that combines an array of courses in literature, film, visual arts, music, history, politics, sociology, and environmental studies with rigorous training in the Russian language. We offer two majors:

  • Russian, for students who want to focus primarily on language and Russian and Russophone literature and culture.
  • Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, which is interdisciplinary in focus and combines extensive linguistic training with a range of content courses in the social sciences and humanities.

While most students choose to study Russian, with careful planning it is possible to count another relevant language studied elsewhere (such as Ukrainian, Georgian, or Uzbek) toward the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies major.

A Vibrant and Tight-Knit Intellectual Community

You’ll discover a spirit of camaraderie in our department, which is small enough that you get to know all your professors well. We offer a host of opportunities that are unique to Oberlin. Many of our students live (and practice their language skills) in Allencroft, the oldest and most atmospheric dorm on campus and a vibrant hub for Russian and Russophone culture. Advanced students often help teach Winter Term Elementary Russian. Honors students work one-on-one with their professors and travel abroad to conduct library and archival research.

While study abroad in Russia is currently suspended, we send students to such countries as Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Latvia for language study and cultural immersion. We have sponsored Winter Term trips to Hungary and the Baltics, as well as three-month internships in Estonia, Poland, Uzbekistan, and other destinations. We also offer a unique one-month summer course in the Republic of Georgia.

Our students gain admission to top graduate schools, and recent grads have gone on to careers in journalism, academia, public policy, and law; one is now a park ranger, another a sommelier, a third a professional baseball scout (and yes, he played baseball in Russia!).

Oberlin has sent more than 50 students to work with NGOs in Russia and surrounding states.
Learn more about our OCREECAS internships

Summer in Tbilisi

Georgia: The Crossroads of Civilzations is an immersive summer course based in the country’s capital, Tbilisi. Students participate in a rich academic program of lectures, discussions, and field trips while simultaneously interning according to their interests at a range of organizations and institutions (libraries, museums, NGOs etc.).

Wide shot of Tbilisi, Georgia from above
Oberlin College is among the top producers of Fulbright scholars in the United States, with Russian among the top yielding programs at the College.

Learn—and Teach!—the Language of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky

One reason our majors land so many Fulbrights is that they have the chance not just to take Russian, but to teach it as well. We’ve run a student-taught Winter Term Elementary Russian Intensive for almost 50 years.

A student writes on a chalkboard.

Featured Courses

REEE 220

Ukrainian Literature & Film in the 20th Century: Colonial Encounters

Ukrainian culture has been and continues to be shaped by encounters with colonialism in the form of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and contemporary Russia. How did Ukrainian novelists, playwrights, poets, and filmmakers respond to these encounters? What new strategies for creativity did they develop? How do these 20th-century colonial encounters help us understand Russia’s current war in Ukraine? Discussion format, brief lectures. All readings in English. Course appropriate for new students.

Taught by
Anna Lordan

The Existentialist Imagination in Russia and Europe

Responding to the major crises and anxieties of modernity, particularly the decline of religion and the rise of metaphysical skepticism, existentialism invites us to explore such themes as consciousness, death, the absurd, freedom, and responsibility. This course probes the origins of the existentialist worldview in 19th and early 20th-century Russian literature (Tolstoy, Dostoevsky) and classic texts by European existentialists (Kafka, Unamuno, Camus, Sartre, de Beauvoir), then considers how this legacy was refracted in 20th and 21st-century Russian literature and film. In English.

Taught by
Vladimir Ivantsov
FYSP 018

Red Futures: Exploring Soviet Science Fiction

The grand upheavals of the October Revolution did not just involve the radical transformation of social relations and economic conditions in the here and now. The Soviet experiment was also deeply concerned with the future: imagining new horizons of human possibility through grand political theories, novel practices of everyday life, and the vehicle of speculative fiction. By engaging with secondary literatures and primary texts (cinema, politics, prose), we explore what it might mean to investigate the history of the future.

Taught by
Nicholas Bujalski
RUSS 411

Special Topics: Mikhail Bulgakov in Historical Context

Selected readings from the Kyiv-born Russian and Soviet author in the context of the Russian revolution, civil war, and the 1930s. From his early short stories to the unfinished novel Master and Margarita, Bulgakov raises questions about the difficult moral and existential choices that his characters—and he as an author—make in order to survive in a time of oppression, war, and lies. The course provides a window into the complexity of Bulgakov’s life and work. In Russian.

Taught by
Maia Solovieva

Student Paths and Profiles

Oberlin-Moscow-Colombo- Alaska-New York-Uzbekistan

Globe-trotter Sarah Chatta ’17 double-majored in creative writing and Russian and wrote an honors thesis on Bollywood  in the Soviet Union. After graduation, she taught English in Moscow, then worked as a journalist in Sri Lanka (on a Princeton in Asia Fellowship), Alaska, and New York City (for Inside Edition). She is currently a Fulbright Fellow in Bukhara, Uzbekistan.

Sarah Chatta


Hank Miller ’17 taught Winter Term Russian and wrote an honors thesis on Nabokov’s Pale Fire. After graduation, he  journeyed on a Fulbright to Yakutsk, the coldest city on earth, where he taught English for a year and visited the local Wooly Mammoth Museum. He is now in the warmer climes of Berkeley CA, where he is pursuing a PhD in Russian literature.

Hank in a museum, with a giant woolly mammoth on display behind him.

Natural Winemaking in Georgia

Russian major and varsity swimmer Jean-Paul Gilbert ’17 headed off to Sighnaghi, Republic of Georgia after graduation to work at a natural winery through an OCREECAS internship. He then did a stint at the world famous restaurant Noma in Copenhagen before going back to his hometown of Chicago, where he plans to open a natural wine bar.

Above, Jean-Paul cleans out a qvevri—a giant amphora buried in the earth for fermenting wine.

Jean-Paul's head pops up from a hole in the floor amid buckets and a hose.

What does Russian at Oberlin look like?

A professor in a classroom.

Professor Tom Newlin leading an Elementary Russian class.

Photo credit: William Bradford
A group of students enjoying an outdoor event in winter.

Luci Williams ’23, Tara Bobinac ’23, and Brian Shoop ’23, and (back) Effigy Long-Winter ’23 at our February 2020 Maslenitsa Festival on Tappan Square.

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Oberlin Russian Department
A group of 8 people meets in a lounge.

Students at Russian Table with Professor Maia Solovieva and Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant Yuliia Podstavniagina.

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Oberlin Russian Department
Four travelers stand beside a Pan American Airlines plane.

From Oberlin’s archives: the 1964 Oberlin Choir tour of the Soviet Union.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Oberlin College Archives

Next Steps

Get in touch; we would love to chat.

Students sitting in a circle in the grass, spaced widely apart from one another.
Photo credit: Yvonne Gay