Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

Wesleyan’s Russian department thrived for over forty years as one of the four or five leading undergraduate Russian departments in the country. Most of the important Russian writers of the 1970s-1990s passed through or emigrated directly to Wesleyan, gathering at faculty houses for Russian-style conversations over dinner about current literary problems in Russia. Over two decades, before the end of the USSR, our invitations made it possible for leading writers, critics, and linguists and their families to emigrate to the United States when they and their careers were in jeopardy within the USSR, and those families in turn have aided many other Russians. Our faculty has built a network of academics and professionals in Moscow to whom we have sent our students, contacts which in those times of censorship and repression required the trust we had established over years of scholarly and personal exchanges, attending each others’ conferences, translating and publishing each others’ work. Our support of these Russian writers and scholars was a major contribution to the Russian studies community in the West.

Since 1991, geopolitics have reduced Russian language and literature enrollments nationwide, which has led us to refocus our department efforts in the interdisciplinary Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (REES) Program. We regularly invite the foremost poets, writers and scholars from Russia and abroad to speak on a broad range of Russian topics, in film, anthropology and the blogosphere. The redesigned REES major has a social-sciences track as well as a language-and-literature track. All our courses are now offered in REES; language courses preserve the RUSS identification.

Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

The major in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies is designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of contemporary Russian culture and society, its history, its political and economic institutions, and its place in the world.  Students are strongly encouraged to spend a semester or a summer in Russia. At the end of their studies students should have achieved an advanced level of fluency in the language, and should be able to work with Russian sources to conduct original research in their chosen area of specialization. They should be able to read or watch Russian media and understand the historical and cultural references that frame Russians' understanding of their world.  Students should also have a basic familiarity with the historical, cultural, social, and political developments of the other post-soviet states beyond Russia, and have the opportunity to explore these countries in more detail if they so desire. The major prepares students for careers in research and cultural analysis, education, law, artistic production, diplomacy and public service, business, and communication.

REES Minor

The minor in REES consists of six courses, in which the student must achieve a GPA of B. These courses must include RUSS 101 and 102 or two semesters of Russian language study at the appropriate level and four more REES courses, of which one must be taken in each of the three areas of (1) politics and economics; (2) history and religion; and (3) literature and culture (see course list below). The fourth course may be in any of the three areas or may be a semester of intermediate or advanced Russian. Two of the courses may be taken during study abroad (with prior approval). All courses except RUSS 101 and 102 must be taken for a grade. Students should plan the minor in consultation with REES faculty. 

Any student who intends to earn the minor in REES should speak with the program chair by the end of the junior year at the latest. Satisfactory completion of the minor will be certified by the program.

Russian Native Speakers

Native speakers are encouraged to apply for TA/CA positions with the Russian Department, whether or not they are enrolled in our courses. Contact the department Administrative Assistant, Debra Pozzetti (

Mailing Address:

Russian Department
Wesleyan University
262 High Street
Fisk Hall
Middletown, CT 06459

Administrative Assistant:

Debbie Pozzetti

Tel: (860) 685-3359
Fax: (860) 685-3465

Comments and questions may be sent to e-mail  Debbie Pozzetti