Russian Website


Chair, Professor HELGA DRUXES

Professors: DRUXES, GOLDSTEIN. Associate Professor: CASSIDAY. Assistant Professor: VAN DE STADT. Teaching Associate: BORISOVA.


The department provides language instruction to enable the student to acquire all four linguistic skills: understanding, speaking, reading, and writing. Russian 101-W88-102 covers the basics of Russian grammar. Russian 103 and 104 offer additional instruction in grammar and provide extensive practice in reading and conversation. Russian 201 and 202 aim to develop facility in speaking, writing, and reading.


The department strongly encourages students desiring to attain fluency in Russian to spend a semester or year studying in Russia or one of the former Soviet republics. Students generally apply to one of several approved foreign study programs. Russian 104 or the equivalent and junior standing are normally prerequisite for study abroad.


The department regularly offers courses on Russian literature and culture in English for those students who have little or no knowledge of Russian, but who wish to become acquainted with the major achievements in Russian literary and cultural history.


To enhance a student's educational and professional profiles, the Certificate in Russian offers a useful tool for using the language in a wide variety of disciplines. The sequence of language and culture courses is designed to supplement a student's major at Williams by enabling the student to expand his or her knowledge in a related field.

Students who enter Williams with previous training in Russian may substitute more advanced courses for the 100- and 200-level courses; they can also be exempted from up to two of the required courses. Thus, in order to earn a certificate a student must take no fewer than five courses (including three language courses) after enrolling at Williams.

Students must receive a minimum grade of B in each course taken in the sequence. In addition, they must receive a score of at least 85% on a standardized language proficiency test administered by the department.

Required Courses

  1. 101
  2. 102
  3. 103
  4. 104
  5. 201


  1. -at least one course on Russian cultural history
  2. -at least one course on Russian intellectual, political, or social history, or post-Soviet economics


The Russian major offers students an interdisciplinary approach to the intellectual and cultural history of Russia and the former Soviet republics. Students complete the major by combining courses in Russian language and literature with courses in history, political science, music, economics, and art.

For students who start Russian at Williams, the major requires a minimum of ten courses: Russian 101-102, 103, 104, 201, 202, and 402; one elective in Russian above 202; and two electives from either Russian courses above 202 or appropriate offerings of other departments.

For students who have acquired intermediate or greater proficiency in the language before coming to Williams, the minimum requirement is nine courses: Russian 402; one elective in Russian above 203; and seven other courses selected from Russian courses above 102 and appropriate offerings in other departments.

Students selecting the major must normally complete Russian 202 or the equivalent by the end of the junior year. Majors will normally be expected to take the 400-level seminar offered in their senior year, even if they have previously taken another version.

Examples of appropriate courses in other departments are:

  1. History 140 Fin-de Siecle Russia: Cultural Splendor, Imperial Decay
  2. History 240 Muscovy and the Russian Empire
  3. History 241 The Rise of the Soviet Union
  4. History 440 Reform, Revolution, Terror: Russia, 1900-1939

Russian majors may receive major credit for as many as four courses taken during study abroad.


At the beginning of the second semester of the senior year, students may nominate themselves to candidacy for the degree with honors. By the end of the junior year at the latest, however, they will have established in consultation with the department their qualifications for embarking on the project, the pattern of study to be followed, and the standards of performance.

Students earn a degree with honors by submitting a senior thesis (493-W31-494) of honors quality.