Russian Literature

The M.A. in Russian Literature

This degree is a prerequisite for the M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in Russian Literature. Full-time students normally complete this portion of the program in two or three semesters. Part-time in the Free-Standing M.A. program must complete the program within four years. Notice that two Residence Units are required for the M.A. degree.
 

Educational goals:
Students will:

expand their knowledge of the Russian literary tradition;
become conversant in twentieth-century critical and cultural theory and learn how to interrogate the fundamental idioms and axioms of our academic practices;
achieve a high level of language proficiency in Russian language;
learn the skills associated with independent research and academic writing.

Requirements:

Coursework:
30 points at the graduate level (4000 and higher), including:

  • three courses in Russian literature;
  • the Proseminar in Literary Studies (SLLT GR8001) - an introduction to critical theory and methods, to be completed during the first semester of graduate study;
  • one Directed Research course for the completion of the Master’s essay; to be taken with the M.A. essay adviser in the second semester;
  • one graduate-level Russian language and linguistics courses; such as Practical Stylistics (RUSS GU4434), Introduction to Old Church Slavonic (SLLN GU4005), History of the Russian Literary Language (RUSS GR6225), Structure of Modern Standard Russian (RUSS GR6021), courses from the Chteniia po russkoi literature and Chteniia po russkoi kul'ture series, Fourth-Year Russian (RUSS GU4333 and GU4334), or any other Russian language course at the 4000 of above;
  • two additional elective courses. Note that doctoral students who plan to pursue the concentration in Comparative Literature and Society should take CPLS GU4900 in the first year of study and may count it as one of these elective courses.

All courses required for the M.A. are to be selected in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. One of the literature and one of the elective courses may be taken for R (registration) credit; all other courses should be taken for a letter grade.  

2) Languages: Additional Russian language study at Columbia, or in summer programs elsewhere, if the Department's annual placement and progress examinations indicate such a need.  A second Slavic language is encouraged but not required.   

3) M.A. Essay: An independent research project (30 - 60 pages) completed under the guidance of an adviser and submitted before the end of the third semester of study. For further information, see M.A. essay guidelines.


The M.Phil. in Russian Literature

Prerequisites for this degree are the M.A. degree in Russian Literature and formal approval by the department.
Students are expected to complete the M.Phil program before the end of their eighth semester of graduate study. For the duration of the program, each student works closely with a faculty mentor who, as a rule, is distinct from the student's M.A. adviser. Note that four Residence Units beyond the M.A. (for a total of six) are required for the M.Phil degree.

Educational Goal:
Students will:

  • demonstrate advanced-level knowledge of the Russian literary tradition and the Slavic Academic field;
  • develop expertise in a minor field of specialization; Note: This minor field can be either another (Slavic or non-Slavic) language and literature, or another discipline (history, linguistics, philosophy, religious studies, sociology, or music, among others). As an alternative, students can pursue a concentration in Comparative Literature and Society;
  • acquire pedagogical skills in a variety of classroom experiences by teaching both Russian Language and Russian Literature under guided supervision;
  • achieve near-native proficiency in Russian;
  • demonstrate excellent reading proficiency in two additional languages that are central to their individual research program;
  • continue to hone their skills in academic discourse, research, and writing though coursework, academic publications and conference participation, and through involvement in the vibrant academic life of the Department and Harriman Institute.

Requirements:

1) Coursework: Students complete a combined total of at least 30 points of coursework in their major field of Russian literature and their minor field or concentration in Comparative Literature and Society, distribution as follows:

  • four courses in Russian literature;
  • Practical Stylistics (RUSS GU4434) and Introduction to Old Church Slavonic (SLLN GU4005), if not taken at the M.A. level;
  • either the History of the Russian Literary Language (RUSS GR6225) or the Structure of Modern Standard Russian (RUSS GR6021), if neither was taken at the M.A. level;
  • three or more courses toward the minor field;
  • two additional elective courses in the major; the minor or another related field.

All courses should be chosen in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and should be taken for a letter grade. The two elective courses can be taken for R credit unless used for certificates (ICLS or Harriman) that require a letter grade.

Minor fields:

  • Second Slavic literature (Czech, Polish, Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian, or Ukrainian): provides general knowledge of the history of the chosen literature and a firm grasp of one selected period, genre, or theme. Two of the required courses toward this minor may be in language above the elementary level.
  • Non-Slavic literature: candidates are expected to demonstrate a general knowledge of the history of the chosen literature and a firm grasp of one selected period, genre, or theme that links that literature to Russian Literature;
  • Russian history and culture: candidates are expected to take graduate-level courses in Russian history, art history, music, philosophy, religion, or another relevant field, and to demonstrate a general knowledge of Russian intellectual history with a focus either on a specific period or a particular discipline, as is applies to Russian culture;
  • Slavic Linguistics: candidates are expected to take CLSV GR6100 (Comparative Grammar of Slavic Languages) and other graduate-level courses in Slavic linguistics and Slavic medieval studies, as well as courses in general linguistics; one of those courses may be an advanced course in a Slavic 9non-Russian) language;
  • Interdisciplinary minor: developed in consultation with the Director Graduate Studies, and with the approval of the department.

Concentration in Comparative Literature and Society may be chosen instead of a minor field. Students are expected to develop two fields of study in addition to their primary field of Russian literature. For a full description of the concentration and the expectations regarding minor fields within the concentration, please see the web pages of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.
The concentration requires a total of 24 points (six or seven courses) at the graduate level (4000 and higher) and must include the following:

  • Introduction to Comparative Literature and Society (CPLS GU4900), which is preferably taken during the first year of graduate study;
  • two doctoral seminars in comparative topics;
  • two courses in a language other than Russian, reading texts in their original language (even in courses where class discussion is held in English);
  • additional courses in the minor fields as needed to prepare for the required graduate seminars.

Students completing the concentration should work closely with the Director of Graduate Studies of both Slavic and Comparative Literature ans Society in developing their fields of study within the concentration, in choosing courses, and determining which courses taken to fulfill the requirements for the major in Russian literature (outlined above) may also count toward the requirements for the concentration.

2) Languages: A reading knowledge of (1) French and German; or (2) either French or German and one other language of demonstrable importance to the students research. Proficiency is established by the departmental examination.  Both research languages should be chosen in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. Students completing the Concentration in ICLS will need to fulfill the language requirements stipulated by ICLS.

3) Teaching requirement: Three years of participation in the Slavic Department's instructional activities. As a rule, in the second, third, and fourth years of study, students gain exposure to teaching through participation in the Department's language and literature programs. 

4) M.Phil. examination: Students are expected to take the comprehensive examination for the M.Phil. degree during their fourth year of graduate study, preferably at the beginning of the seventh semester.  Students are examined in five areas: 1) Old Russian Literature; 2)Literature of the Russian Baroque and Eighteenth Century; 3) Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature; 4)Twentieth-Century Russian Literature; 5) Criticism, Genre, and Literary Institutions.  Students take the exam on two consecutive days, writing for three hours on each day.  Approximately one week after the written examination, the student meets with a three-member faculty committee for an oral exam, which lasts up to two hours. The written portion of the examination serves as the point of departure for a discussion ranging over the whole field.  A reading list for this comprehensive exam is available online.

Students who do the concentration in Comparative Literature and Society take modified written and oral portions of the exam, in which they answer questions about Russian literature and both of their minor fields.

5) Minor Colloquium: This is the student's opportunity to exhibit the work completed in the minor field(s) (the "portfolio") and to reflect on its relationship to the major field and its role in the student's intellectual development.  Three faculty members take part in the discussion with the student.  (For a full description, please see the Guide to the Minor Colloquium on the Slavic Department website.) Students should schedule the colloquium before the end of their eight semester of graduate study.


The Ph.D. in Russian Literature

Prerequisites this degree are an M.Phil. degree in Russian Literature and formal approval by the Department.
Students are expected to complete the Ph.D. program before the end of their seventh year of graduate study. For the duration of the program, each student works closely with a faculty adviser and two other faculty members who serve as a second and third readers on the student's dissertation committee.

Educational goals:
Students will:

  • develop an independent research project for a doctoral dissertation; 
  • produce an original work that substantially contributes to the field of Russian/Slavic studies.

Requirements:

1) Dissertation Brief

In preparing a dissertation brief, students should bear in mind that it is not meant to be a dissertation in miniature; it functions, rather, as a blueprint for the dissertation to come.  It envisions what the dissertation will do, but it does not undertake those things itself. While the brief necessarily reflects a good deal of preliminary research and thought, it remains a proposal for work yet to be done.

The dissertation brief should

  • articulate the core idea of the dissertation (the questions and insights that drive it, the argument that is emerging)
  • identify the material you will draw upon in your analysis
  • characterize any methodological or theoretical perspectives you will bring to bear on your material
  • outline the dissertation’s projected structure
  • establish the scholarly significance of your study, situating it in the field(s) to which it aspires to belong. 

The brief includes the following sections:

 (1) the body of the document, which serves the purposes listed above.

(2)  an expanded table of contents supplying a provisional title for each chapter and a description of the content and function of each one (maximum one page per chapter).

 (3)  a working bibliography, including sources you intend to read as well as those you have already consulted. 

Approximate length: 12 pages, exclusive of bibliography.

The candidate defends the brief before a committee consisting of the sponsor and two other faculty members whose expertise is relevant to the dissertation topic. Upon receiving their approval, the candidate proceeds with the dissertation. Students must defend the brief before the end of the fourth year of graduate studies.
 

2) Dissertation research seminar: A required two-semester seminar aimed to facilitate preparation for brief defense and the transition to dissertation research and writing. All students should enroll in it for R credit, preferably in their fourth year.

3) Dissertation: Students should complete, defend, and deposit their dissertation in accordance with the regulations of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, normally by the end of the seventh year of graduate study.