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Russia has created some of humanity's greatest artworks and perpetrated some of its bloodiest crimes. Our program is based on an innovative curriculum and strong student-faculty interaction. With courses on Russian language, literature, history, and politics, we give students the skills they need to understand the complexities of this fascinating — and at times mystifying — country, which seeks to influence world events with its technological prowess.

About the Major

Russian studies provides a rigorous curriculum in thinking, speaking and writing — in both Russian and English — suited to a variety of fields and interests, from graduate study to professional training. Students in many courses read and evaluate Russian sources in translation, but majors are required to develop full proficiency in Russian through the program's extensive language courses.

As the level of Russian increased, the number of students in my class decreased. By third semester Russian there were only five of us. Because it's such a small department, the classes are very relaxed. This isn't to say that it's not a lot of work - rather, the classes are informal in that discussions and questions are welcome any time.

Isabella Schoning ’16 — Russian studies and physics major

"A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma," is how Winston Churchill described Russia in a still-famous phrase from 1939. A half-century of Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union did little to soften that characterization in the West. But in recent years, Russia has begun to reveal itself, and Hamilton's Russian studies program is dedicated to fully unraveling the Russian mystery.

Careers After Hamilton

  • English Teaching Assistant (Cherepovets, Russian Federation), U.S. Fulbright Program
  • Research Specialist, Center for Naval Analysis
  • Pediatric Physician, Seattle Children's Hospital
  • Senior Attorney, NYS Commission on Judicial Conduct
  • Director of Marketing & Communications, World Union for Progressive Judaism
  • Occupational Therapist, Mid-Shore Special Education Consortium
  • Principal Investment Officer, International Finance Corp.
  • Global Health Program Manager, Catholic Medical Mission Board

Contact Information


Russian Studies Program

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4782 jbartle@hamilton.edu

Meet Our Faculty

A Sampling of Courses

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First-Term Russian 110F


An introduction to the Russian language in a contemporary cultural context. Focus on development of speaking skills in real-life situations.

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Dreams, Visions and Nightmares: Introduction to Russian Film 169S


Survey of Russian film from its beginnings through the Soviet period to the present. Introduction to Russian culture and to the basic grammar of film analysis. Films include Strike!, Brother, Burnt by the Sun, The Thief, and The Return.

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Politics in Russia 213


Examines political processes in Russia after the collapse of communism in the former Soviet Union. Central focus on explaining the rise of multi-party democracy in the 1990s and the subsequent consolidation of authoritarian rule under Vladimir Putin. Topics include the creation of political parties, the state’s use of propaganda and the media, the problem of corruption, and the prospects for democracy in the future.

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Madness, Murder and Mayhem: Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature 225F


Readings of representative works with emphasis on major literary movements, cultural history, and basic literary devices. Primary texts by Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, as well as some critical materials. Not open to first year students. Writing-intensive.

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Sex, Death and Revolution: Twentieth-Century Russian Art and Literature 226S


Close analysis of major literary and artistic movements of the 20th century, with particular attention paid to the innovations of the avant-garde and the impact of the Bolshevik Revolution on the artistic imagination. Emphasis on the recurring theme of the fate of the individual in a mass society.

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Bloodsucking as Metaphor: Vampires, Werewolves and the Living-Dead in Myth, Literature and Film 295


Exploration of vampire and werewolf myths in Russia and Eastern Europe, the cult of ancestors in Slavic ritual, folk beliefs and rituals associated with the dead and the so-called “living-dead,” and the tradition of “dying-reviving” gods. Transformation of the myths and folklore into the popular cult phenomenon of Dracula in West-European and American literature and film. Particular attention paid to bloodsucking and shape-shifting as political, sexual and medical metaphors.

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