Explore the vast and complex land where West meets East.
Russian is More Important than Ever in Today’s World
Russian House (Русский Дом) is the oldest, smallest, and most distinctive dorm on campus, and the welcoming hub of all things Russian at Oberlin.
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 hands-on exploration of the vital role of food and drink in Russia and its borderlands (Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Central Asia) from a historical, cultural, environmental, and culinary perspective. Topics include the dual peasant and aristocratic origins of Russian cuisine; food, drinking, and national identity; food and memory; the Russian vegetarian tradition; foraging and hunting; feasts and famines; kitchen and dacha- gardening; current trends such as fast food, local food, farm-to- table. Cookbooks, literary works, essays, films. Entails kitchen time. No cooking experience required!
- Taught by
- Tom Newlin
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
What role do individuals play in revolutionary history? How do understandings of identity change in moments of upheaval? How do scholars use ‘ego-documents’ as historical sources? This research seminar is an exploration of selfhood in the modern Russian revolutionary tradition. Through treatises, memoirs, artworks, and films, we will examine how nihilists, populists, Marxists, feminists, and the militant working class constructed new forms of radical subjectivity. Final primary source-based research paper focused on revolutionary biography.
- Taught by
- Nicholas Bujalski
This course explores the landscape of women's lives in contemporary Russia from a variety of perspectives—social, political, cultural. We will juxtapose readings from well-known Russian women writers such as Liudmila Petrushevskaia and Liudmila Ulitskaia with the voices of a wide range of contemporary Russian journalists, film directors, philanthropists, and video bloggers. Involves regular discussion and hands-on projects. Conducted 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.
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.
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.