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News Flash:  Slavic Languages and Literatures Changes its Name to Russian and East European Studies (REES)

Starting July 1, 2017, the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at University of Pennsylvania has changed its name.  Its new name, the Department of Russian and East European Studies (REES), represents a shift towards a more multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural approach to the study of a vital and highly dynamic region of the world. 

Along with this name change, the department has introduced a new and more flexible major in Russian and East European Studies, with three tracks that will replace previous majors, though current students can continue to graduate with their existing major. 

The department took this step after two years of discussion and consultation throughout the School of Arts and Sciences.  It was felt that the label “Slavic” did not encompass the full range of languages and nations in the East European region, excluding the Hungarians, Romanians, Balts, Jews, and Roma, among many inhabitants of the region.  Rather than adopting a 19th century quasi-nationalist label rooted in pan-Slavism, the department felt strongly that a geographical term was needed to reflect the multi-cultural realities of our area of study. 

In addition, the department has long had a commitment to interdisciplinary area studies, teaching courses on the history, politics, economics, and cinema of the region, in addition to languages and literatures.  The department felt it was time to signal to the world our long-standing interdisciplinary commitment.

The department continues its commitment to Russian language and literature, and has even expanded this commitment by teaching beginning Russian language in the evening for the first time in a long time in 2017-18.  Beyond this, the department hopes to expand its offerings in East European languages and literatures, as well as diversifying course offerings in the social sciences with the hire of Professor Kirsten Ghodsee, a specialist on gender studies in the post-communist countries, with an area emphasis on the Balkans. 

This name change coincides with an enormous growth in public interest in Russian and East European Studies due to perceptions of Russian involvement in the 2016 US presidential election and the growing perception of Russia as a country to be reckoned with in world affairs.  Russian efforts to reclaim its empire in Eastern Europe, including the war in Ukraine, have also created a renewed interest in Russian and East European Studies. 

REES faculty welcome the opportunity to discuss the name change with students and others who are interested in the new multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary emphasis of the department, so please seek us out.  Nazdrovie!  

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Great news! Our department now offers a new minor. Official announcement here.

Interdisciplinary Minor in East Central European Studies (ECES)
This program will offer students the opportunity for the integrated, interdisciplinary study of the history, politics, language, literature, and culture of this important strategic region, which includes the Baltic states, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, Slovak Republic, and Ukraine.  These nations share a complicated history but also possess their own regional identity and unique culture and languages. East Central Europe is its own region of study with a history at the edge and, at the same time, the core of European politics and culture. Managing the challenges and opportunities there will be increasingly high on the international agenda in years ahead.

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2016: The Daily Pennsylvanian research of Penn's professors's teaching, based on Penn Course Review data, showed that our language programs coordinator, Maria Alley, is the twelfth-highest rated teacher at Penn out of 1,730 Penn professors in terms of instructor quality, with a 3.9 overall rating. Very impressive and certainly well deserved! Congratulations!

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No advance notice is required for a class visit. Please be ready to introduce yourself in the beginning of class.

  •   Russian Language Placement Test Dates: August 29: 3 - 5pm, August 30: 10am - 12pm. Location TBA.

  •    Vlad Todorov's new book titled "The Spinning Top" , a dark futuristic fairy-tale Balkan dystopia, was published a few weeks ago by a major Bulgarian publisher "Colibri."  On June 30, 2017,  the Bulgarian National Film Center granted  funding for the filming of the novel.