Dedicated primarily to the study of the language, literature, and culture of modern Russia, the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures offers students the opportunity to witness the dramatic renaissance of one of the world's major cultures as it redefines itself and its place in the world.

Slavic department faculty members are active nationally and internationally in a variety of fields ranging from literary theory to Romantic poetry and the avant garde. They are united by a central focus on language and literature in their broader cultural context, which includes study of the fine arts, theater, history, and cinema.

The department features small size language classes with a focus on communicating in Russian, shared faculty with Comparative Literature, Linguistics, the School of Theatre, and History, and opportunities for Exchange and Study Abroad programs.

Learning objectives for the major in Russian

The Russian language

Upon finishing a major in Russian, non-native speakers will be able to participate actively in most informal and some formal conversations; to handle the linguistic challenges presented by an unexpected turn of events in the context of a routine situation; to provide a short, structured argument in support of an opinion; and to read and discuss authentic contemporary texts dealing with topics in Russian culture, politics, and society.

Heritage speakers will be able to accomplish all of the objectives listed above. They will also be able to explain an opinion in detail and construct narratives in literate Russian, both orally and in writing.

A marked degree of fluency in the language of other cultures is an essential tool to developing an in-depth understanding of them. The ability to speak, listen, read, and write in other languages therefore is an imperative for students to have in this global age. You can learn more about basic language instruction at USC by clicking here.

Cultural knowledge

All students completing the Russian major will be able to differentiate and appraise
the major periods in Russian cultural history (medieval Russia, Petrine Russia, Imperial Russia, Soviet Russia, post-Soviet Russia). They will be able to evaluate critically important texts from each period and to assess key theories of Russian cultural identity and interpretive controversies in the history of Russian culture.

Although the Russian major no longer concentrates exclusively on literature, we nonetheless expect our students to be able to analyze literary and historical texts (in Russian and in translation); to distinguish key periods and issues in Russian literary history (especially from the nineteenth century onward); and to have read a select list of works in the original Russian.

Higher objectives

In addition to these basic aims, we expect the very best of our students also to be able to produce extended discourse in Russian in which they provide structured arguments in support of their opinions. They will also be on their way toward consolidating their knowledge, not just of selected literary and other (historical, political, cultural) works in Russian, but of a representative bibliography of such works. The linguistic and cultural knowledge at this level is such that they would be well-prepared to enter graduate study in the field or use their knowledge in a professional setting (e.g., business, journalism) without extensive further training.

USC Success Story

Stephen Forte, Russian Major 1990

"I have run multiple companies around the world and done business in over 60 countries. From Bangladesh to Angola, English is the global language of business. However China and Russia stand out as countries where the language of business is their own. I have lived in China for 10 years, and done business in, or relating to Russia for 25 years. My study of Russian not only allowed me to communicate with people from northern China and Kazakhstan to the Ukraine (a very large swath of earth), but gave me a wealth of understanding in their thought process and culture. This insight is made a significant impact in my global business success. Russian culture in particular, embraces foreigners who learn the language making a warm and accommodating business climate not available to others. It was an important choice for me at USC, and is one of the few undergraduate skills I still practice today."

USC SLavic on instagram

Please follow the USC Slavic department's updates on instagram!

We are @USC_Slavic and will post information about upcoming events so you don't have to miss out on any great talks or scrumptious pierogi!

Top Ten Course!

Professor Zholkovsky's class "Masterpieces of the Russian Short Story" (SLL 210) has been selected as one of USC's top 10 classes. Hear a student from the class talk about what made it such a great experience (starting at 2:40) in the video here!


  • Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • University of Southern California
  • College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
  • Taper Hall 255
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-4353