109 Cabell Hall
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400783
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4783
(434) 924-3548 Fax: (434) 982-2744
Overview Given the current political climate in Russia and Eastern Europe, there is reason to believe that the United States will play an increasing role in trade and cultural exchange with these countries. As a result, there will be a need, in both the private and public sectors, for people familiar with East European languages and cultures. The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures works to meet this need by offering a broad spectrum of courses in three areas of study: language, literature, and folklore.
Students find a comprehensive curriculum in language. The program in Russian language offers introductory courses in the fundamentals and more advanced courses in reading, composition, stylistics, and the language of business. In addition to these courses, which develop oral/aural and written proficiency in the language, students may pursue other interests relating to language (linguistics, for example). Instruction is also available in other Slavic languages including Polish and, when staffing permits, Serbian/Croatian.
Russian literature is also a major emphasis of the department. Course offerings cover the entire range of Russian literature, from the works of medieval Russia to those of the present. The courses vary from broad surveys read in English translation to seminars on individual writers (e.g., Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Nabokov). Emphasis is placed on the forces that have shaped Russian literature, including social concerns as well as the Russian sense of history and national destiny.
Finally, the department offers courses in folklore that deal with Slavic myth, ritual, and folklore theory. Theory courses, while often relying on Slavic examples, address issues with relevance beyond the Slavic field, such as the nature of oral literature and the significance of ritual in understanding human behavior.
Faculty The nine faculty members of the department are involved on a daily basis in the education of their students. Since the department is small, access to faculty is easy. Faculty interests include literary theory, linguistics, modern cultural criticism, and folklore.
Students There are currently about 35 students majoring in Slavic languages and literatures. Most courses in the department are small, from 15 to 25 students, and are taught by a faculty member. With permission, undergraduates with superior skills may enroll in graduate courses in their fourth year of study. Most courses are taught as discussions or lecture/discussions in order to encourage student input. Thus, students learn to think critically, and develop well-rounded analytic abilities. Students who complete majors in the Slavic department often go on to graduate or professional programs. Others work in the government (State Department, grant administration, security agencies), the private sector, or the media. Still others choose to travel and work in Russia and Eastern Europe, where opportunities include teaching, internships, business activities, and volunteer work.
The Center for Russian and East European Studies (CREES) provides a focal point for students interested in this field. Lectures and colloquia as well as social events are sponsored.
Study Abroad Students are encouraged to study abroad under the auspices of any accredited program.
Russian House Students may apply to live in Russian House, a residential facility near Grounds. Residents are expected and encouraged to speak Russian as much as possible in this setting. Russian House features social and academic events such as lectures, a film series, meals, and informal gatherings. A University instructor who is a native speaker of Russian is in residence at the house as well.