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226 Milbank Hall
212-854-8266 (fax)
Department Administrative Assistant: Mary Missirian

Chair: Catharine Nepomnyashchy (Ann Whitney Olin Professor)
Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar: Richard F. Gustafson
Assistant Professor: Rebecca Stanton
Senior Associate: Vasipiy Arkanov, Mara Kashper

Other officers of the University offering courses in Slavic:

Professors: Boris Gasparov, Frank Miller, Cathy Popkin, Irina Reyfman, Alan Timberlake
Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar: Robert L. Belknap
Associate Professor: Valentina Izmirlieva, Liza Knapp (Chair, Slavic Languages and Literatures, Columbia University)
Assistant Professors: Tatiana Smolyarova
Lecturers: Anna Frajlich-Zajac, Radmila Gorup, Christopher Harwood, Yuri Shevchuk, Alla Smyslova


The primary mission of the Slavic Department at Barnard is to prepare students linguistically, culturally, and academically to participate in the global community, specifically by engaging with the Slavic-speaking world.  To this end, the Department, in cooperation with its Columbia counterpart, offers instruction in five Slavic languages and literatures, with particular emphasis on Russian. The department insists upon a strong foundation in language study, because this best prepares students for future involvement with the countries of Eastern Europe and Eurasia, as well as for graduate study in the literature, anthropology, sociology, history, economics, or politics of the region, and for careers in government, business, journalism, or international law.

The department offers major tracks in Russian Language and Literature, Slavic and East European Literature and Culture, Russian Regional Studies, and Slavic and East European Regional Studies.  A minor program in Russian Literature and Culture is also available.  These programs are supported by an extensive array of courses designed to help the student obtain reasonable fluency in the spoken and written language and a reading ability adequate for interpreting texts of some difficulty in a variety of disciplines. While offering a range of courses designed to give the student a strong general background in Russian and Slavic literature, film, culture, and intellectual history, the department encourages students to supplement their knowledge by taking courses devoted to Russia, the former Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe offered in other disciplines as well. The department co-sponsors and facilitates student participation in region-related extra-curricular activities held at the Harriman Institute and the Columbia Slavic Department and also fosters student engagement with the rich cultural resources available in New York City.

Student Learning Outcomes

In recognition of the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning published by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, the Slavic Department expects the following outcomes for students in each of its major tracks:

  • Communication.  Students should be able to communicate orally and in writing in the language of study, and understand and interpret written and spoken language on a variety of topics.
  • Cultures.  Students should demonstrate an understanding of the perspectives, products, and practices of the culture studied.
  • Connections.  Students should be able to acquire information and recognize the distinctive viewpoints available to them through the foreign language and its cultures.
  • Comparisons.  Students should develop comparative insights into the nature of language and culture as a result of studying a language and culture other than their own.
  • Communities.  Students should be prepared to participate in multilingual communities at home and around the world.

In addition, the Department expects the following outcomes of all majors:

  • Students should demonstrate broad knowledge of at least one major aspect (e.g. literature, politics, or history) of the culture studied
  • Students should acquire and convey, in an appropriate academic form, deep knowledge of a particular topic or question relating to the culture studied

Entering students should see Professor Frank Miller (708 Hamilton, 854-3941) for a placement examination: a sufficiently high grade will automatically fulfill the language requirement; other students will be placed accordingly. Native speakers of Russian or any Slavic language should consult with the department chair. The Department is a member of "Dobro Slovo" (The National Slavic Honor Society) and is pleased to induct its qualifying students into the society.