Russian Studies

You will explore Russia’s language, literature, history, politics, arts and religion in an intimate program. Faculty members will encourage you to study abroad and help you find the best experience. You may have opportunities to interact with the Russian-speaking community in Central New York, home to hundreds of recent émigrés from Belarus and the Ukraine.

Ben Ligas '14

A student’s discovery: an affinity for all things Russian

Ben Ligas ’14 studied Spanish in high school, arrived at Hamilton College ready for another language and took on Russian. He’s enamored. “I love Russia. I’ve always loved it. This is my opinion, but I think they have the best history, best authors, best film, best political system to study, really – not the best political system, the best political system to study,” Ligas says.

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At Hamilton, Russian studies covers language, literature, history, politics, arts and religion. “The way that the major has been designed has given me a fantastic and diverse education in everything Russian,” say Ligas, who also majors in government.

In his senior thesis, he is looking at whether a preexisting culture centered around autocracy kept democracy from taking hold in Russia. His commitment to study what he loves tracks with his decision to attend Hamilton. A big reason he picked it was its open curriculum.

Ligas is mulling going to law school after Hamilton, and he thinks the double major will help him on that score.

“I think I’m a more well-rounded student, and I think it just shows I have very diverse interest in a lot of things,” he says.

Ross Ufberg '07 and wares from his publishing firm.
Ross Ufberg '07 and wares from his publishing firm.

A graduate’s progress: publishing and a Ph.D.

In 2012, Ross Ufberg ’07 co-founded New Vessel Press, a publishing firm that specializes in translating foreign literature into English. And he’s pursuing a Ph.D. in Slavic languages at Columbia University, working on Russian and Polish literature.

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Ufberg built a foundation for those passions at Hamilton College, where he double-majored in Russian studies and comparative literature.  A paper he wrote his first year first sparked his interest in translation. In it, he compared different translations of War and Peace.

As a Hamilton student, Ufberg spent a year in St. Petersburg.

“I learned so much, from books and from people, about life, language, literature, culture, friendship, romance. There's nothing that prepares you for a career more than an interesting and curious life, and that year in Russia was certainly a very big step in the right direction,” he says.

Ufberg realized soon into his college career that he wanted to continue working with literature after graduation.

“I did know literature wasn't a field of study for me. It was much more than that, it was my life, where I found inspiration and meaning and ethics, too,” he says. “I knew my life had to be immensely involved in literature.”