Slavic Languages and Literatures

Professor Daria Khitrova, Director of Undergraduate Studies

The concentration in Slavic Literatures and Cultures offers you the opportunity to study the great works and cultural traditions, past and present, of Russia and the other Slavic countries, especially Ukraine, Poland, and the Czech Republic. These countries share a rich cultural life as well as a turbulent and fascinating history. In the Slavic concentration, you will develop proficiency in Russian or another Slavic language such as Czech, Polish, or Ukrainian; you will learn to read literary works in the original language, gain valuable experience for working and traveling abroad, and come to understand these cultures and the important role they have played in the modern world. The concentration requirements are five courses in Russian or another Slavic language, three courses of tutorial, one survey course in Russian or another Slavic literature, two electives, and a senior project in the final year. (Native speakers and students with advanced language preparation may substitute additional literature courses for a substantial part of the language requirement.) Study abroad, whether a summer or a semester, is strongly encouraged and easily accommodated within the concentration.

Your Slavic tutorials will give you a rigorous introduction to contemporary methodologies of reading texts and studying foreign cultures. All tutorials in the Slavic department are taught exclusively by full-time faculty. The sophomore tutorial (spring term only) will introduce you to major issues in the field of Slavic studies, including methods of interpreting literary texts as well as visual culture, and the forces structuring national and regional identities. The junior tutorial introduces students to shorter canonical texts of Slavic literature, read in the original. In order to fulfill your tutorial requirements, in your junior year you will also take one 100-level course with readings in Russian (or another Slavic language). Normally, the 100-level course is taken in the fall, the tutorial in the spring, both in the junior year, but students who study abroad or have other constraints on their schedules may work with the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) to make other arrangements. Many of our concentrators combine a love of literature with a strong interest in other disciplines, and we highlight the interdisciplinary nature of Slavic studies by incorporating history, politics, and visual culture into our tutorials and other department courses. In the senior year, non-honors concentrators will design a fall-term capstone project in consultation with the DUS, allowing them to study with a faculty member from the department and write a 25–30 page senior project. Honors candidates will work with a faculty member for the entire senior year and write a thesis. The department awards prizes for superior honors theses.

In addition to the required survey course in Russian literature, students are encouraged to use their two elective courses to explore a broad variety of subjects offered by the department, including one-author seminars on Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Nabokov, Chekhov, and others; the interwar avant-gardes in literature, art, and film; the cultures of great European cities such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Prague; twentieth-century Ukrainian literature and its political contexts; the culture of Medieval Rus’; Russian women readers and writers; Russian theater and ballet; Russian and Central European film; and the traditions of Slavic intellectual history from anarchism to Communism and political dissent. Many of our courses cover aspects of Slavic critical theory (formalism, structuralism, Bakhtin, cultural semiotics), as well as other contemporary theoretical approaches to literature.

Study abroad, though not required, is strongly encouraged by the department, and the majority of our concentrators spend time abroad, typically during their junior year or in the summer after their sophomore or junior year. Slavic department faculty currently run one summer abroad program each year in Prague and Tbilisi. Many of our students also study in Russia or Central Europe with other programs such as the Bard-Smolny Program, the American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR), or the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE); entrance to these programs is competitive, but Harvard students have traditionally done well. Credit toward concentration requirements is granted to those who successfully complete such programs; in order to receive concentration credit for this or any other external study, the student must receive permission in advance from the DUS.

The department welcomes all students with an interest in Slavic languages and cultures, and is happy to accept late transfers so long as the applicants have already begun language study. We also welcome joint concentrators (see below). Although the undergraduate concentration will prepare you for graduate study in Slavic, comparative literature, history, and other programs, many of our students follow careers in other areas, including medicine, law, business, and government; they find that the experience of learning a language and getting to know a foreign culture greatly expands their opportunities for work and travel.

REQUIREMENTS

Slavic Literatures and Cultures
Basic Requirements: 12 courses (48 credits)

  1. Required Courses:
    1. Five courses in Russian language (including the first term), or five courses in another Slavic language (Ukrainian, Polish, Czech, or Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian; all five must be taken in the same language). Native speakers, or students with advanced language preparation, must still take at least one language course in the department, and have the option of testing out of the other four courses, which they would take in literature instead.
    2. Three courses of tutorial (see item 2).
    3. A survey course in Slavic literature or culture: The list of courses that count for the survey requirement is updated each year on the department website.
    4. Two additional courses from the Slavic department or in related areas (see item 4).
  2. Tutorials:
    1. Sophomore year: Slavic 97 (one term, spring semester) required. Letter-graded.
    2. Junior year: Slavic 98 (spring term) required. Letter-graded.
    3. Junior year: one 100-level course that has a section with texts in Russian (or in another Slavic language).
  3. Capstone Project: The non-honors capstone project (Slavic 99a) will be a 25–30-page research paper or annotated translation, developed in consultation with the DUS and written under the guidance of a faculty adviser.
  4. Other information:
    1. The two elective courses may include any Slavic Department literature or linguistics course at the 125 level or above; one of the Frameworks in the Humanities courses (11a, 11b or 11c); Culture and Belief 38, Culture and Belief 42, Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding 41, Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding 45, Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding 60, Ethical Reasoning 28, and Societies of the World 52; a Freshman Seminar or relevant courses in the Departments of Comparative Literature, Linguistics, VES, History or Government if approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies; or an Independent Study approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
    2. All courses for the concentration must be letter-graded, except approved Freshman Seminars and Slavic 99a, which are graded SAT/UNS.

Slavic Literatures and Cultures
Requirements for Honors Eligibility: 13 courses (52 credits)

  1. Required Courses: Same as Basic Requirements.
  2. Tutorials: Same as Basic Requirements.
  3. Thesis: Two terms (Slavic 99a and 99b) required. Graded SAT/UNS.
  4. Other Information: Same as Basic Requirements.

Joint Concentration: Slavic Languages and Literatures as primary field: 11 courses (44 credits)

  1. Required Courses:
    1. Five semesters in Russian language (the first semester of Russian A may be included), or five semesters in another Slavic language (Ukrainian, Polish, or Czech; all five must be taken in the same language).  Native speakers, or students with advanced language preparation, must still take at least one language course in the department, and have the option of testing out of the other four courses, which they would take in literature instead.
    2. Two semesters of tutorial. (See item 2)
    3. One survey course in Slavic literature or culture: the list of courses that count for the survey requirement is listed on the department website.
  2. Tutorials
    1. Sophomore Year: Slavic 97 (one term, spring semester) required. Letter-graded.
    2. Junior Year: Slavic 98 (spring term) required.  Letter-graded.
  3. Thesis: Two terms (Slavic 99a and 99b) required.  Graded SAT/UNS. (Progression to 99b will be contingent on satisfactory completion of 99a.)

Joint Concentration: Slavic Languages and Literatures as allied field: 8 courses (32 credits)

  1. Required Courses:
    1. Five semesters in Russian language (the first semester of Russian A may be included), or five semesters in another Slavic language (Ukrainian, Polish, or Czech; all five must be taken in the same language).  Native speakers, or students with advanced language preparation, must still take at least one language course in the department, and have the option of testing out of the other four courses, which they would take in literature instead.
    2. Sophomore tutorial: Slavic 97 (one term, spring semester) required.  Letter-graded.
    3. One survey course in Slavic literature and culture. The list of courses that count for the survey requirement is listed on the department website.
    4. One additional course in the Slavic Department.
  2. Thesis: 99A and 99B courses should be taken in your primary department. However, your thesis has to engage substantially with sources in Russian or another Slavic language. In addition to evaluation of your thesis in your primary department, one reader from the Slavic Department will be assigned to evaluate and grade your thesis.

ADVISING

The Director of Undergraduate Studies is responsible for advising the concentrators in all three years. Concentrators meet with the Director individually at the beginning of each term to discuss their Plans of Study and their progress through the concentration, and thereafter as desired.

For up-to-date information on advising in Slavic Languages and Literatures, please see the Advising Programs Office website.

HOW TO FIND OUT MORE

Consult Professor Daria Khitrova, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Barker Center 322, 617-495-5808, dkhitrova@fas.harvard.edu.

ENROLLMENT STATISTICS
Number of Concentrators as of December

Concentrators 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Slavic Languages and Literatures 9 11 13 8 5 4 3 5 6
Slavic Languages and Literatures + another field 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0
Another field + Slavic Languages and Literatures 0 0 1 2 2 1 1 1 3