Russian Language, History, Culture, Music and Film

Russia and Ukraine have dominated the news lately, and the Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies Program (SPREES) faculty are experts in the know. These courses offer a glimpse at the culture and influence of the 280 million Russophones in our world. This program, taught by the talented faculty from SPREES, is designed to quickly immerse you in the history and culture of Russia and its former empire. Participants will learn basic Russian words and phrases, explore the world of Slavic melody and dance, drink some Georgian teas and learn how Walt Disney managed to capture major Russian cultural highlights. Don't miss this amazing learning experience and opportunity to work with top scholars.

Spring 2020 Sessions

January 11

Content Session: From Kievan Rus' to the Russian Empire: A Brief History of Russia taught by Dr. Daniil Zavlunov

Description: This session offers a birds-eye view of Russian history from its earliest days in the 9th century until the Revolution of 1917. Alongside history, we'll consider Russia's unique geography (Russia spans eleven time zones and encompasses both Europe and Asia), huge diversity of people and languages, a distinct dominant religion (Russian Orthodox Christianity), and peculiar political, social and cultural practices. In addition, we'll reflect on how all these aspects—individually and collectively—shaped Russia's distinct sense of self-identity.

Language session: taught by Dr. Znezhana Zheltoukhova

January 25

Content Session: The Collapse of the Soviet Union and its Legacy taught by Dr. Martin Blackwell

Description: For all of the talk of China's role today or of the allegedly borderless flow of people, goods and services across the earth, it is easy to overlook that moment which emphatically ushered us into today's geopolitics: the end of the Russian-led Soviet Union's Communist experiment in 1991. The goal here is to examine why that alternative to liberal democracy suddenly failed in the 1980s and then to travel across the Russian Federation's last quarter-century as current President Vladimir V. Putin worked to re-establish his country as at least one of the many current players on the world stage. Why ultimately does the collapse of the Soviet Union help explain the authoritarian Putin's popularity at home and abroad and what possible challenges are there to the multi-polar consensus he now seeks to lead?

Language session: taught by Dr. Znezhana Zheltoukhova

February 8

Content Session: Belarus at the Crossroads taught by Dr. Alesia Sedziaka

Description: Chances are you have never heard of Belarus. Or, if you did, it would be in connection with rigged elections, limited freedoms, and its all-powerful leader. But what is this country that borders on Russia, Ukraine, and the European Union really like? In this session, we'll learn about the history, traditional culture, and modern rock-bands in Belarus. In addition, we'll learn about significant events that shaped the country's present such as the tragic nuclear-plant disaster in Chernobyl.

Language session: taught by Dr. Michael Denner

February 29

Content Session: The T on Georgian Tea taught by Dr. Michael Denner

Description: Learn about Georgian and Russian history through the lens of the tea leaf... and drink some Georgian tea!

Language session: taught Dr. Znezhana Zheltoukhova

March 14

Content Session: Russian Animation taught by Dr. Snezhana Zheltoukhova

Description: Have you seen Masha and the Bear? Interested in learning what makes this and other Russian animated films so unique and beloved across the globe? This class will introduce you to the world of the original cartoon characters created in Russia from the seventies to these days. You will learn how the three most popular animation series of all times managed to capture major Russian cultural highlights over time while paying tribute to Walt Disney classics. We will draw, sing, and play in this interactive cultural immersion class.

Language session: taught by Dr. Michael Denner

April 4

Content Session: Folk Music taught by Dr. Snezhana Zheltoukhova

Description: Folklore is probably the most fascinating part of peoples' cultural ancestry. In this class, you will explore the world of Slavic melody, singing and dance from its roots to modern adaptations. Former member of UW-Madison Folk Orchestra Dr. Zheltoukhova will tell you the story behind balalaika and domra's fame, while you will be able to try those and other Russian folk instruments.

Language session: taught by Dr. Michael Denner

Registration Information

Ages: Appropriate for ages 11-17

Dates: January 11 – April 4, 2020

Time: 9:00 a.m. - Noon

Location: Stetson Deland Campus

Cost: $49 per week or $250 for entire program

Register Online