Major in Russian and East European Studies (REES)

Major in Russian and East European Studies (REES)

The major in Russian and East European Studies (12 c.u.) provides a program of study that enables a broad, multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural understanding of the languages, literatures, cultures, histories, and societies of Russia, Central and Eastern European, and the Balkan and Baltic regions. For the language requirement, students can choose any regional language offered at Penn (i.e. Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian) or in which they can demonstrate an equivalent proficiency. Students may satisfy the language requirement in a language not offered at Penn by completing language coursework through a study abroad or by demonstrating equivalent oral and literacy proficiency in a test.

In addition to linguistic flexibility, the REES major allows students to pursue their specific disciplinary interests through three concentrations: “Language, Literature, and Culture,” “History, Politics, and Society,” and “Cinema, Arts, and Letters.” Majors are encouraged to complete a summer or a semester study abroad to gain first-hand understanding of the communities they study and to advance their language competency. The major offers an honors option. 

 

Application for a REES Major

 

 Major Requirements

 1. Basic Language Requirement

Students complete the introductory through intermediate language program (equivalent to four semesters in traditional tracks, or equivalent in heritage program) in any regional language (such as Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, or Ukrainian), or demonstrate equivalent proficiency through a placement test. Students are strongly encouraged to explore several areas of the region by studying more than one regional language.  Consult with the REES Undergraduate Chair on how to satisfy this requirement and with the Academic Director of the Penn Language Center (PLC) in the case of languages offered through PLC. 

The major requires a total of twelve courses (12 c.u.), beyond the completion of the basic language requirement, or the demonstration of equivalent proficiency. These twelve courses must include:

2. Russian and East European Studies Core (1 c.u.)

Choose either:

EEUR010 Central and Eastern Europe: Cultures, Histories, Societies

RUSS010 Russia and Eurasia: Cultures, Histories, Societies

3. Concentrations (7 c.u.)

Students choose one of the three concentrations below or create their own in consultation with the REES Undergraduate Chair.  Concentrations consist of seven REES courses* (with RUSS and EEUR course numbers).  

Language, Literature, and Culture  

Students take seven REES courses* with language, literature, and cultural studies content.  

A. Advanced Language Requirement

Students must complete the advanced language program in any regional language approved by the Undergraduate Chair or demonstrate equivalent proficiency.  In most cases, students fulfill this requirement by taking two advanced 400-level or 500-level language courses or their equivalent in any regional language approved by the Undergraduate Chair.

B. Chronological Distribution

Students must take at least one broad survey course that covers the period before 1800, one that covers the period before 1900 and one that covers the period after 1900.  

History, Politics, and Society  

Students take seven REES courses* with history, political science, and other social sciences content.  400-level or 500-level (or equivalent) content-based language courses may be counted towards this requirement. 

A. Disciplinary Distribution

Students must take at least one course with historical content, one with political science content, and one with other social sciences (such as economics or sociology) content.  

B. Chronological Distribution

Students must take at least one broad survey course that covers the period before 1800, one that covers the period before 1900 and one that covers the period after 1900.  

Cinema, Arts and Letters

Students take seven REES courses* with cinema studies, art history, and literature content.  400-level or 500-level (or equivalent) content-based language courses may be counted towards this requirement. 

A. Disciplinary Distribution

Students must take at least one course with cinema studies content, one course with art history content, and one with literature content. 

B. Chronological Distribution

Because the language of cinema in this part of the world is deeply historical and cultural, students must take at least one broad survey course that covers the period before 1800, one that covers the period before 1900 and one that covers the period after 1900. 

4. Free Electives (4 c.u.) 

Students must complete four additional REES courses* (with RUSS and EEUR course numbers) or other courses approved by the Undergraduate Chair that have appropriate content and match an individual student’s academic program.  Language courses in any regional language – and students are encouraged to study another language beyond the one satisfying the basic language requirement – may be counted if they are not already counted towards a concentration or the basic language requirement. 

5. General Distribution

All students must complete at least one course with historical content, one with social science content, one on literature or culture, one that focuses on Russia, and one that focuses on Eastern Europe.  

6. Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to consider study abroad options as a way to gain knowledge and understanding of local communities they study and advance language competency. Normally, students who study abroad or who attend summer programs in the USA will be eligible to count up to four credits from such programs towards the major, including language courses. Under rare circumstances (additional summer study, more than a semester of study abroad), students may upon request be allowed to apply as many as six credits from such programs to the major. Advance permission for such a course of study is required from the Undergraduate Chair.  The Undergraduate Chair will also recommend study abroad and summer programs that fit the criteria of the department.  

7. Honors Thesis (optional) 

Students with a minimum 3.3 overall GPA and a minimum 3.6 in major coursework are eligible for honors in the REES major. Those who seek to receive honors must complete a thesis of 35-40 pages with bibliography and notes.  Thesis students must enroll in RUSS399. The Department will not consider research projects completed for other programs’ or majors’ theses or projects as REES honors theses. The honors thesis may be written during either semester of the senior year, under the guidance of a REES faculty member whose area of expertise coincides with the subject of the project. Within the first week of the semester in which the project is to be completed, students should provide to the Undergraduate Chair a two-page research proposal endorsed by the faculty member who will supervise the project. One copy of the final paper must be submitted to the Undergraduate Chair before the major certification is approved for graduation. Only students who receive a final grade of “A” on their research project will be recognized with honors in the major in REES. All theses are kept on file by the Department. Students may meet the honors thesis requirement by enrolling in a relevant graduate seminar approved in advance by the Undergraduate Chair and attaining an A on a final research paper that answers the criteria of the honors thesis.  

8. Minimum Grade 

Students must receive a grade of C+ or above in a course for it to count towards a core requirement, concentration, or elective in the REES major.

 

* Note that some REES courses (defined as those with RUSS and EEUR course numbers) are offered through Penn Language Center (PLC) and some are cross-listed courses of the Departments of History and Political Science, and possibly in future also other units at Penn.