The Slavic Department teaches the languages, literatures, and cultures of the Slavic nations. The curriculum provides the language training prerequisite to specialization in a variety of careers (e.g., government, diplomacy, international trade, teaching), and offers an enriching cultural and linguistic background to non-majors, especially those interested in the ethnic heritage of the Slavic peoples.
Students with high school training in Russian are required to take both the reading and listening (CEEB) Russian tests to evaluate their language proficiency. The results of the placement test determine the proper placement. The Slavic Department has final authority to determine the most appropriate course level. Heritage students (students partially raised in a Slavic-speaking environment) are required to contact the Slavic Department prior to enrolling in any language classes.
Students have the opportunity to gain basic competence in Czech language, upon which one can build toward whatever higher level of proficiency one requires. Students gain exposure to and knowledge of the work of some of the major figures in Czech culture, including such internationally acclaimed authors as Jaroslav Hašek, Karel Čapek, and Milan Kundera, as well as the Nobel Prize winning poet Jaroslav Seifert. The ways in which Czech culture met the challenges of World War II, and of the subsequent forty years of Communist rule, is given major emphasis in several of the courses. Students may also learn about the important contributions of Czech filmmakers to world culture. Finally, several of the courses address question about ethnic discriminations as they have been dealt with in literature and film, a feature which would deepen students’ understanding through the comparative perspective it would provide.