Chair, Professor JULIE CASSIDAY

Professors: CASSIDAY, GOLDSTEIN. Associate Professor: VAN DE STADT. Teaching Associate: INYASHKIN.


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 151 and 152 offer additional instruction in grammar and provide extensive practice in reading and conversation.


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 152 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 all the 100-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 courses in Russian) 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



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. The major requires a minimum of ten courses of which at least six must be conducted in Russian, at least two must be at the 300-level, and one at the 400-level. In addition, students may take up to four related courses offered by other departments and taught in English.

Examples of appropriate courses in other departments are:

Students selecting the major must typically complete Russian 152 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 of it. Russian majors may receive major credit for summer language study (in consultation with the department) and 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.