The main component of SSRES 2017 will be a choice of one intensive eight-week course in either Russian or Kazakh, offering 120 contact hours of in-class instruction in all aspects of the language. We offer the following levels:

Russian: Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced, and Advanced/Superior. Students are placed into appropriate levels of Russian, according to their level of proficiency (as defined in ACFFL Proficiency Guidelines).

Kazakh: Beginning (NEW for SSRES 2017!)

The Russian and Kazakh curriculum at SSRES is taught using the communicative method of instruction through linguistic and cultural immersion. Foreign language courses are taught by professionals, trained in current methodologies and experienced in teaching international students.

Student Tutors: In additional to coming to regular office hours held by the instructors, students will be able to practice their conversational Russian and Kazakh skills and get additional support with coursework from bilingual student tutors.

Elective Courses in Eurasian Studies

SSRES 2017 will offer optional elective courses in Eurasian Studies taught in English.

HST 100 History of Kazakhstan (6 ECTS or 3 Carnegie)

This course focuses on the history of the present Kazakhstani territory in the early modern and modern periods (XVI c. to the present). This course will start with a sketch of the history of the Qazaq khanate and with a study of the interaction between the three juzes and their (sedentary and nomadic) neighbours in the XVIII and XIX cc., including the Qing empire and the Central Asian polities on the south. Then we will study the history of the Qazaqs under Russian rule and in the early Soviet period, using the full collectivisation drive and the ensuing famine as a final periodization landmark. Following some recent scholarship, we will look at this period as a trajectory of integration of the Qazaqs into the Tsarist and Soviet State. The last part of the course will be consecrated to the study of the mature Soviet period. We will look in particular at some aspects of State-driven socio-economic transformation, the role of local leadership, and the way Soviet policies affected the emergence and consolidation of present-day independent Kazakhstan.

HST 104 Central Asian History II (6 ECTS or 3 Carnegie)

This course is a survey of the history of southern, predominantly settled Central Asia from the late Timurids to the present. We will look at the history of the territory that corresponded to the Turkestan general-governorship under Tsarist rule, which encompassed the main oases of Transoxiana, but also mountain areas and plateaus to the east, deserts to the west and south-west, and the fringes of the steppe to the north. We will also make some incursions in the history of neighbouring territories, in particular those of Safavid and Qajar Persia, Eastern (Chinese) Turkestan, and present-day Afghanistan. This class focuses on issues of political structure and legitimisation, competition over natural resources and settled-nomadic relations, colonialism in its Russian variant, and the social and economic transformations that occurred in the Soviet era. The students will be exposed to a variety of primary sources of very different genres (from chronicles to waqfnamas, from OGPU reports to fiction movies) and will also be introduced to some older and new historiographical debates.

WLL 230: Survey of Post-Soviet Russian Literature and Culture (6 ECTS or 3 Carnegie)

This course is dedicated to the study of contemporary Russian literature and culture after 1991 (after the dissolution of the Soviet Union). We will explore works written in various genres of prose and poetry (traditional novel, dystopias, conceptualist poetry, postmodernist fiction, popular and detective literature, women’s prose, creative nonfiction) and other modes of cultural production (music, political and performance art) and debate the place and role of literature in the modern world. We will read a wide range of Russophone writers and poets who, while coming from diverse ethnic backgrounds of the former Soviet space, chose to write in Russian and to inscribe their work into Russian literary tradition. Our authors will include Victor Pelevin, Vladimir Sorokin, Tatyana Tolstaya, Ludmila Ulitskaya, Svetlana Alexievich, Zakhar Prilepin, Eugene Vodolazkin, Boris Akunin, and others. While discussing their texts, we will address the issues of politics, re-assessment of history, memory, gender, national identity, violence and terrorism. Assessments will include regular reading response papers and reviews, and a number of scaffolded assignments that will lead students to produce an analytical paper on the subject of their choosing. The format of this course will consist of lectures, discussions, and film showings

Free Introductory Course in Kazakh Language and Culture (for the students, enrolled in the Russian courses)

SSRES 2017 will also offer a free non-credit-bearing course “Practical Course in Kazakh Language and Culture.” The course is designed for learners who are interested in Kazakh language, culture, and cuisine, and who have little or no previous experience with Kazakhstan. The course will introduce students to elements of Kazakh culture related to language and rituals, especially rituals related to interactions of man with nature (Cosmocentrism), and rituals related to the stages of socialization of man (besyk toi, tusau kesu, bet ashar, shashu, til ashar, etc.). The course will be taught in English. Each session will give relevant vocabulary in Kazakh with translations and explanations in English. This course will also introduce students to basic grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation of Kazakh, and help them develop basic speaking skills.

Free Introductory Course in Russian Language and Culture (for the students, enrolled in the Kazakh courses)

SSRES 2017 will also offer a free non-credit-bearing course “Introduction to Russian Language and Culture.” The course is designed for students who are interested in getting basic (survival) Russian language skills and an introduction to Russian culture and cuisine in Russia and in post-Soviet Kazakhstan. Students will learn the alphabet, acquire basic skills in reading, speaking and understanding Russian in basic and predictable contexts (introductions, asking for directions, ordering a meal at a restaurant, speaking about their family and interests). The course will be taught in English with some language practice in Russian.

Eurasian Studies Lecture Series

Designed to be broad in focus and accessible to general audiences, lectures on topics related to culture, history, politics and literature of Kazakhstan are given by the Nazarbayev University professors who introduce the students to the most current research in their fields. The Lecture Series is open to the SSRES 2017 participants, as well as to NU students, faculty and community.

Eurasian Studies Lecture Series for SSRES 2016 included the following presentations:

Zbigniew Wojnowski “De-Stalinization and Its Limits in the 1950s Kazakhstan”

Alexei Trochev “Between Convictions and Reconciliations: Criminal Justice in Kazakhstan”

Beatrice Penatti “The Great Kazakh Famine: An Overview of Recent Research”

Caress Schenk “ Labor Migration in Kazakhstan and the Eurasian Region”

Naomi Caffee (University of Arizona) “Kazakhstani Writers and the Russophone World”

Alexander Morrison “Rethinking the Russian Conquest of Central Asia”

The list of the lectures for 2017 will be posted here in the spring of 2017.


Past electives included:

SSRES 2016

Politics and Governance of Eurasia (Professor Charles Sullivan, 3 Carnegie Credits (6 ECTS credits)

The purpose of this course is to acquaint students with the politics of the Eurasian region (also commonly referred to as the former Soviet Union (FSU) and/or the post-Soviet space). Specifically, this course will examine topics such as the collapse of the USSR; historical legacies of the Soviet Union in Eurasia today; the nature of the ruling regimes in Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus; unresolved conflicts and enduring wars; Great Power relations; as well as a variety of regional challenges such as state failure, Islamic terrorism, and the regional drug trade. This is an advanced undergraduate seminar designed to enhance students’ overall understanding of the study of contemporary Eurasian politics.

Introduction to Translation (Professor Victoria Thorstensson,  3 Carnegie Credits (6 ECTS credits)

The course will provide an overview of the history of translation, from the classical to the contemporary period, both in the West and in Russia. Students will read and discuss a selection of the most influential theoretical texts from the field of translation studies, including works by John Dryden, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Walter Benjamin, Roman Jakobson, and others. Discussions will center on questions of translatability, fidelity, accuracy, and the politics of translation. In practice sessions, we will discuss approaches and methods used by professionals in the fields of news translation, advertisement translations, subtitling, and interpreting. In the second part of the course, students will translate fiction, including poetry (Pushkin, Mandelstam, Brodsky), a children’s story and a short story of their choice. Students will workshop their translation projects in these fields and genres and compare different translations (those created by practicing translators and by the students in class) in order to examine how each version works and discuss how translators make decisions of language, style, format, and cultural equivalency.