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University Bulletin

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Russian (RUS)

RUS 100 (GH;IL) Russian Culture and Civilization (3) The Russian people from the tenth century to present times; their literature, arts, music, science, and philosophy. In English.

RUS 100 Russian Culture and Civilization (3)
(GH;IL)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

This course surveys Russia's cultural past and present. Although it touches on aspects of Soviet culture, the main emphasis lies on what some people would call the "real Russian culture," eclipsed for seventy years under the Communist regime and now about to be resurrected. At this crucial juncture in the history of Russia, the notion of a "real" culture remains highly problematic and controversial. The course surveys the various attitudes of Russian thinkers and authors towards the question of national identity and national destiny. Examples of Russian high culture (philosophy, literature, art, music) and the Russian religious faith (Orthodoxy) are discussed alongside with daily life in post-communist Russia. The course also includes some Russian films. A knowledge of Russian is not required. The course format consists of lectures, slide, video and audio presentations. Questions and discussion are strongly encouraged.

At the end of the course, students will be familiar with the problems that Russia faces at the present time, they will have a summary knowledge of Russian history and geography, and will be acquainted with representative achievements of Russian high culture.

Students are evaluated on the basis of four multiple choice exams, of which the lowest grade will be dropped (60% of course grade), and a research paper graded for both content and language (40% of course grade). Extra credit can be earned through class presentations, offering an opportunity for practice in public speaking, and by writing reaction papers about lectures offered by the Penn State Center for Russian and East European Studies, or appropriate extracurricular events (e.g., concerts of Russian music, exhibits of Russian art, etc.)

As a General Education course, Russian 100 incorporates the following four elements of active learning: international competence (which is inherent in the subject matter), information gathering and analysis, active use of writing, and dialogue pertaining to social behavior, community, and scholarly conduct, which will be provoked by the reading material. Russian literature and culture is famous for raising the "big questions." Vast in scope, unabashedly ambitious, nineteenth-century Russian literature aspired to nothing less than to teach its readers how to live. The failed communist experiment in the twentieth century raises poignant questions about the desirability and pitfalls of utopian social engineering. Students have to write a 10-page research paper on a topic previously agreed upon with the instructor. For this paper, they have to explore both eletronic and print resources. The paper is graded for content, structure, and language. As an option for extra credit, students can volunteer a class presentation on their research topic. Recent presentations included, for example, a lecture on Russian rock music with sound samples and pictures downloaded from the internet, and a presentation on Russian composers of the futurist avant-garde.


General Education: GH
Diversity: IL
Bachelor of Arts: Humanities
Effective: Summer 2005

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.