Carnegie Mellon University

Russian for Heritage Speakers: Babushka's Russia & Beyond

Course Number: 82-394

A mad copy clerk declares himself the King of Spain. A nightmarish visit to a local museum somehow spirits a Russian refugee back to the Soviet Union. A bespectacled Jewish reporter brutally kills a goose to earn the respect of his Cossack platoon. Although Russian literature is famous for its long 19th-century novels, the absurdities of Russian society were explored no less profoundly in short stories by Gogol, Chekhov, Nabokov, Babel, and many others.

This course examines the Russian short story as a form particularly suited to revealing the barbarism, hilarity, and ecstasy of human experience. This course is designed to address the linguistic and cultural learning needs of heritage speakers of Russian, those who grew up hearing and speaking Russian at home but who have had little or no formal study of Russian language, culture, or history. Although heritage speakers of Russian often achieve advanced or near-native listening comprehension skills, they require further training in reading, writing, and speaking. Heritage speakers may also be unfamiliar with important aspects of Russian culturekey events in Russian and Soviet history, well-known cultural phenomena, literary works, films, and so onand have gaps in their knowledge of social norms.

Russian for Heritage Speakers aims to fill these gaps through a combination of grammar instruction and student-led close analysis of texts and audiovisual material. The course is organized around five thematic units that allow students to learn about Russian culture while engaging in interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational modes of communication: "Foundations: Truth & Legends," "Revolutions: Political, Cultural, Social," "Student Life," "Russia in the World," and "Individual and Community."

View the Schedule of Classes for more details

Units: 9
Prerequisite(s): None