Russian Department

Studying Russian at Wesleyan


All students are welcome in our courses on Russian Literature in translation. These courses, which have unlimited enrollment, provide an introduction to literary history and theory and are writing-intensive (all work is done in English). Consider a Russian literature-in-translation course as an alternative to an English course. We also offer First-Year Initiative courses (small discussion courses with lots of writing).

Start Russian in your first year and you can be ready to spend a semester in Russia the following semester on the Trinity program in Moscow or in your Junior year (by taking the intensive second-year Russian course, mid-May to mid-June).  We also offer a year-long program through the American Collegiate Consortium. 

Choose a major in Russian language and literature (a literary and cultural orientation) or Russian and East European Studies (an interdisciplinary major that combines literature, history, politics, and economics). Our majors have gone on to careers in academia, business, law, the foreign service, and with philanthropic organizations like the Soros Foundation.

Live (or hang out) at the Russian House, site of lectures, Russian co-op dinners, movies, art exhibits, cooking lessons with Yuz Aleshkovsky (an emigre writer who is a legend in the former Soviet Union).

Take advantage of our seminars conducted in Russian, often taught by distinguished visitors from Russia.

Russian is different because it is neither a Germanic nor a Romance, but a Slavic language and therefore has fewer immediately recognizable roots with English. But then, that is the adventure--entering a culture almost entirely new to you.

Some of our graduates

David Abramson, Analyst, State Department

Juliya Arbisman, Solicitor, Amsterdam & Partners

Lyuba Azbel, Fulbright fellow in Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan

Victoria Belyavsky Pinsky, tax counsel, Morgan Stanley

Valerie Borchardt, Literary agent, Georges Borchardt, Inc.

Lindsay Ceballos, Fulbright Scholar; PhD candidate, Slavic Languages and Literatures, Princeton University

Julia Chadaga, Professor of Russian Studies, Macalester College

Lisa Finder, Librarian, Hunter College, NYC

Sean Foley, teacher, Northfield Mount Hermon

Stephanie Gomory, Public Relations Manager and Social Media Director at Alissa Neil PR

Kate Hardin, Senior director, Cambridge Energy Research Associates, Head of Russian and Caspian Energy

Douglas Herbert, International Affairs Editor, France 24, Paris

Steedman Hinckley, Senior Analyst, USG

Luke Hornblower, Partner - Financial Jurist at Deschenaux, Hornblower & Partners, LLP International Financial Jurists, Geneva, Switzerland

Brianna van Kan, Yale Law School, Greater New York area Legal Services

Vera Krimnus, Director, Strategy at Teach for America

Katherine Lahti, Professor of Russian, Trinity College

James Longley, Filmmaker, MacArthur Fellow; Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Bonnie Loshbaugh, author, environmentalist

Alexandra Lewis-Reisen, Senior Staff Attorney, Matrimonial & Family Law, NY Legal Assistance Group

Danielle Lussier, Professor and Chair, Russian, Central and Eastern European Studies, Grinnell College

Kaitlin Martin, Fulbright Scholar; Senior Associate, Human Rights Watch

Lauren McCarthy, Professor of Political Science, UMass, Amherst

Andrew Meier, Journalist and professor, the New School

Malika Mirkasymova, President, Friends of Brentwood Science Magnet Elementary

David Montero, Investigative journalist, foreign correspondent, producer of documentaries. 2014-2015 Fellow at the Investigative Reporting Program, Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley

Ted Plafker, Correspondent, Beijing Bureau of The Economist

Elizabeth Trammell Plantan, Ph.D. program in Government, Cornell

University, focus on environmental and energy politics in Russia, China, and the Arctic

Amy Randall, Professor of History, Santa Clara University

Anthony Richter, Soros Foundation, NYC

Geoff Rips, Director, Development Director at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid; Writer for “The Washington Spectator, “Winner of the Associated Writing Programs Prize for the Novel (2006) for The Truth (New Issues Press); Washington Monthly Award (July 1985) for coverage of the Texas Legislature, author, The Calculus of Falling Bodies

Sasha Rudensky, Professor of Art, Wesleyan University

Jessica Sharzer, Co-executive producer and writer, “American Horror Story”

Elissa Sperling, Fulbright Scholar; Master of Information Studies program, School of Information Studies, McGill University, Montreal, QC

Tierney Sutton, Singer, The Tierney Sutton Band, Grammy nominee

Melissa Tedone, Library & Archives Conservator, Iowa State University

Richard Thomas, Co-founder, Director of Development and IELTS Trainer, English Staff Language Academy, Vladivostok, Russia

Ilya Vinkovetsky, Professor of History, Simon Fraser University

Chris Wade, Teacher, Northfield Mount Hermon

Emily Wang, Fulbright Scholar; Slavic Languages and Literatures, Ph.D. candidate, Princeton University

Greg White, Moscow bureau chief, The Wall Street Journal

Monica White, Professor of Russian and Slavonic Studies, University of Nottingham, UK

Matvei Yankelevich, co-founder, Ugly Duckling Presse

Steve Young, Department of State, Foreign Service, ret.; visiting professor, Wesleyan University, Fall 2015


Graduates: please let us know what you’re doing so we can update and/or add you to this list.


If you're interested in finding out more about studying Russian at Wesleyan, contact the department office or speak to any of the professors in the department.