Friday, 30 September 2011

The Multicultural Culture of Russia

Extracts from a public lecture delivered in the Trinity Long Room Hub as part of the 'Dublin Festival of Russian Culture' from 1 - 7 March 2011.

Russia is a hugely diverse and multicultural nation, home to over 170 recognised ethnic groups, many indigenous, and four world religions: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism. As of 2007 over 1,350 newspapers and magazines, 300 TV channels and 250 radio stations were printed and broadcast in over 50 minority languages. For this reason, the Russian language has two words for 'Russian': 'russky', meaning 'ethnically Russian', and 'rossiysky', meaning 'of the Russian state'. But where are the boundaries of 'russky' culture? This extract discusses the many cultures that helped to shape the origins of the Russian state:

Following the Westernising reforms of Peter the Great, this extract discusses the multicultural origins of many of the leading figures of Russian culture, from the Golden Age of Russian literature to the present:

Trinity is offering a new evening course on 'The Milestones of Russian Culture'. View a schedule of the first term here  or download the application form here'The Multicultural Culture of Russia' public lecture was delivered by Brigit McCone, who currently lectures on the 'Milestones of Russia' evening course and 19th century Russian culture course for undergraduates. Click here to see a video of Brigit discussing reasons to study Russian.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Highlights of Last Year

Highlights of the Academic Year 2010 - 2011 at the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies

The Irish Association for Russian, Central and East European Studies (IARCEES) held its annual conference at the Long Room Hub in Trinity College this April, in collaboration with the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies. This year's theme was 'The Collapse of the Soviet Union: Twenty Years On'. With a keynote speech by the renowned political analyst Professor Victor Kuvaldin of Moscow State University and the Gorbachev Foundation, the lively conference hosted 16 papers by scholars from around the world on post-Soviet society, looking at issues such as identity, language, human rights, migration, social change and multiculturalism.

'The Weather Station' at the 2011 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

The 2011 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival screened 'The Weather Station', directed by John O'Reilly of Snapshot Films, a graduate of the Trinity Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies. A major international production with a Russian cast and crew,  'The Weather Station' is "a cracking psychological thriller. Inhabited only by two ageing meteorologists and a young teenage cook, three men share the remote outpost with swirling snowstorms and an elusive yeti. When a mysterious couple arrives to explore the caves in the area, their presence brings the underlying tensions to the surface. When the wife returns alone and injured, she reveals that she killed her husband in self defence. Her confession fractures the uneasy balance between the men and sets up each of them against each other." (source: JDIFF website)
We are delighted to report that the film was a sell-out hit of the festival!
Click here to see a video of John discussing his decision to study Russian, and a wider look at cultural career opportunities opened up by Russian.

Sarah Smyth awarded the Medal of Pushkin

  On 4th November 2010, Dr. Sarah Smyth was presented with the prestigious Medal of Pushkin by the Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in the Moscow Kremlin.
  This medal is awarded annually to no more than ten recipients in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the promotion of Russian language and culture in the world.
  Dr. Smyth of the Russian & Slavonics Department is also currently Head of the Trinity School of Languages, Literatures and Culture Studies, and the IRCHSS-funded 'Our Languages' project investigating Russian speakers in Ireland.
  Dr. Smyth says,  "the award highlights a significant shift in Irish-Russian relations and bodes well for future developments.”

'Exploring the Other Europe: Eastern Europe's Past and Present' Seminar series Michaelmas Term 2010

A special series of seminars by guest lecturers exploring the history and literature of East Europe:


l8 October 2010  László Kontler (Central European University, Budapest), 'The stakes of discovery in the Enlightenment: astronomy, language and ethnography in an Arctic expedition, l768-l769'

 l5 November 2010 Julia Eichenberg (University College Dublin), 'Fighting for peace and benefits. Poles and veterans' internationalism in the interwar period'

29 November 2010 Ewa Stanczyk (Trinity College Dublin), 'Culture and Identity in the Poetry of Jerzy Harasymowicz'

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Studying Abroad

No language-learning experience is complete without study abroad. As part of the ES and BSL degrees you will spend a year studying in the country of your major language, while TSM students are required to spend a minimum of two months in their target country, and advised to take a year out for complete immersion.


The Russian department has links with universities in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Saratov to which it regularly sends students. It is also possible for students (particularly TSM) to organise study in any part of Russia they wish, with the department's support. In the past, students have chosen to study in the Russian Academy of Theatrical Arts (Moscow), the Moscow Conservatoire and the Academy of Arts (St Petersburg), but if a remote Siberian town or a placement on the Arctic circle sounds more your style then be our guest!


The Baltic capital of Tsarist Russia, 'The Venice of the North' is a sophisticated European city of statues and canals, boasting the lush imperial treasures of the Winter Palace and Petrodvorets. Still regarded by many as the cultural capital of Russia, 'Piter' is home to 140 museums and around 100 theatres. See Pushkin's 'Bronze Horseman', stroll Nevsky Prospekt in the eternal twilight of the White Nights and see works by da Vinci, Michelangelo, Monet, Matisse, Gaugin and Van Gogh at the world's largest art and culture museum, the Hermitage.
Trinity College regularly sends students to the prestigious St.Petersburg State University,while business students attend the St.Petersburg State University, School of Management.


The centre of modern Russia, the seventh largest city in the world and the city with the most billionaires, Moscow features the epic architecture of the historic Kremlin and Red Square, the Soviet Seven Sisters and the gigantic mosaics and marbles of the 'people's palaces' of the metro stations, among a profusion of churches, museums, theatres and other attractions.  A year spent here is a brilliant way to get to the heart of modern Russian life in all its dynamism and contradictions.
Trinity College has an established exchange programme with Moscow State University, Russia's leading university which offers a wealth of programmes especially geared to foreign students learning Russian, and also sends students regularly to the Gorky Literary Institute.

For a slightly more relaxed pace in one of Russia's provincial capitals, why not try Saratov, a port town on the mighty Volga river? An important cultural and scientific centre, Saratov is also home to the Radishchev art gallery and one of Russia's oldest theatres, and has a welcoming attitude to foreign students. Trinity regularly sends students to the Saratov Technical University.

A trip on the Trans-Siberian railway in the summer is a rite of passage for many students finishing their year in Russia. Travelling platzkartny is very affordable, where sharing a carriage of 30 bunks with regular travellers allows students to get to know an amazing cross-section of the different cultures and nations of modern Russia in a friendly atmosphere of storytelling, food-sharing and conversation. The epic seven-day journey from Moscow to Vladivostok can by broken up by many stops: the ancient capital of the khans of the Golden Hoarde, Kazan; the burial place of the tsars in the Ural mountains at Ekaterinburg; the breathtaking natural beauty of Lake Baikal in its cradle of snow-capped peaks, the world's oldest and deepest lake; the windswept Buddhist monastery near Ulan Ude or the Russian Jewish culture of Birobidzhan. Adventurous students may take an alternate route: through Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia, to finish in Beijing; grabbing a ferry from Vladivostok to Japan; or taking a detour through the ancient capitals of the Silk Road and the birthplace of Sufism in Central Asia (note: the above pictures are all just the Russian leg of the journey...).


As a member of the EU, Poland participates in the Erasmus programme for years abroad. Trinity College has links with a number of Polish institutions.

One of the most beautiful cities of Central Europe, Trinity Polish students are invited to spend a year at Krakow's historic Jagiellonian University where Copernicus, the inventor of modern astronomy, trained. Wander the churches and market squares of the old quarter (one of the first UNESCO heritage sites), Wawel castle or the gigantic Underground Salt Cathedral and spectacular rock-salt statuery of the 900-year-old Wieliczka salt mines. Or catch up on your culture at Poland's oldest museum, the Princes Czartoryski, or Tadeusz Kantor's world-famous avant-garde Cricot 2 theatre.


Time spent in Poland's capital at the University of Warsaw allows students to get to know the economic, political and social hub of the country. A varied city, where palaces, churches and mansions jostle with the communist architecture of the Eastern bloc and a large variety of parks and green spaces, Warsaw is the centre of Polish science, theatre, media and music, the city of Chopin, Marie Curie and the Art Deco artist Tamara de Lempicka.

Which Course to Choose?


Russian is your passport to one sixth of the Earth's surface, from the Arctic to the Black Sea, from the canals of St. Petersburg to the Buddhist monasteries of Lake Baikal and the ancient capitals of the Silk Road in Central Asia.  

Russian opens you up to a culture long hidden behind 'the iron curtain' with a dramatic history and world famous literature, theatre, film and art. Russia is also a major and growing business partner of the European Union and the language attracts attention on any CV. Click here for more reasons to study Russian!

Trinity College offers:
  • the only degree-level courses of Russian in Ireland
  • native-speaker language assistants
  • a range of Russian-themed festivities, film screenings and conversational pub nights
  • exchange programmes with a variety of Russian universities and institutes

Is it hard to learn?
The alphabet may look strange at first, but  has not many more letters than our own and can be mastered in a week or two. You need no previous knowledge of Russian to study it as a degree subject in Trinity and you will be provided with small classes, personal attention and assistance from native speakers every step of the way, not to mention the opportunities and support to study in Russia itself. It is also possible to do a Russian degree in Trinity as a fluent or native speaker, with programmes geared towards this level.

Which degree is right for me?
Russian can be studied at Trinity as part of 3 different degree programmes:

  Take Russian with another subject of your choice: another language; literature, drama or film studies; history, archaeology or classical studies; philosophy or economics. Studying Russian with TSM offers the most intensive training in the language, as well as the chance to immerse yourself deeply in Russian literature, history and culture. If you love Chekhov, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky or Gogol, if you're fanatical about film or avid about the Russian avant-garde, then this is the degree for you! Click here to find out more.

  Choose Russian as one of two European languages that you will study alongside history, political science and sociology. If you have a broad interest in modern European society, history and politics, if you would like to understand more about Europe's relations with Russia, and if the opportunity to study and travel in Russia for a year as part of your four-year degree sounds good, then this is the degree for you! Click here to find out more.

  This programme offers a practical and focused training in the world of business, along with a high level of language training. The Russian you are taught is specially geared towards business and management needs, and is complemented by modules on the wider culture and business environment of the country, with a year's study and a two-month work placement in Russia as part of the degree. If you want to do business with Russians, this is the course for you! Click here to find out more. 

  If you are not interested in a full-time degree, you can also learn Russian with us at our evening courses, designed for all ability levels, or enroll in a course on Russian culture taught through English. Find out more about evening courses here.


In the heart of Europe, Poland has a dramatic history and a dynamic culture that boasts 4 Nobel laureates in literature, the theatre revolutions of Grotowski and Kantor, renowned filmmakers like Krzystof Kieslowski (Three Colours Trilogy, Dekalog) and the three Oscar-winning directors Andrzej Wajda, Roman Polanski and Zbigniew Rybczynsky. As the language of one of the EU's fastest growing economies and Ireland's largest immigrant community, it is a major asset to any CV.

Trinity College offers:
  • the only degree-level courses of Polish in Ireland
  • native-speaker language teachers, small class sizes and personal attention
  • a range of Polish-themed festivities, film screenings and conversational pub nights
  • the opportunity to study for a year in the historic city of Krakow
Which degree is right for me?
Polish can be studied at Trinity as part of 3 different degree programmes:

Choose Polish as one of two European languages that you will study alongside history, political science and sociology. If you have a broad interest in modern European society, history and politics, want to learn more about the European Union's new members and would like the opportunity to study in the lofty spires of beautiful Krakow for a year, then this is the degree for you! Click here to find out more.

This programme offers a practical and focused training in the world of business, along with a high level of language training. The Polish you are taught is specially geared towards business and management needs, and is complemented by modules on the wider culture and business environment of the country, with a year's study and a two-month work placement in Poland as part of the degree. If you want to do business in New Europe, this is the course for you! Click here to find out more.

Polish can be studied as an option in the third and fourth years of TSM Russian (see above).

If you are not interested in a full-time degree, you can also learn Polish with us at our evening courses, designed for all ability levels from beginner to advanced. Find out more about evening courses here.


Learn the language of the original bohemians and the beautiful city of Prague. Famous for the Art Nouveau stylings of Alfons Mucha, the sweeping strings of Dvořák and writers from Kafka to Kundera, the Czech Republic offers a wealth of history, culture and scenic Central European landscapes to discover. Trinity College offers evening courses in Czech for learners at the beginner and intermediate levels. The Czech Republic is also featured in our lecture series on Central and East European Cultures.  Find out more


One of the European Union's newest members, Bulgaria is a treasure trove of golden Black Sea beaches and archaeological riches, boasting no less than 9 UNESCO heritage sites, including the spectacular glacial mountain-scapes of Pirin, Thracian sun tombs, rock-hewn churches, ancient Greek acropolises and the world's oldest gold relics at Varna. With a rich culture and history that fuses Slavic and Ottoman Turkic elements, known for fire-walkers, folk-singers and quality Balkan cuisine, Trinity's evening course in Bulgarian for beginners is a great first step to discovering the country for yourself. Bulgaria 
is also featured in our lecture series on Central and East European Cultures.  Find out more.


Just added to our roster is Croatian! On the fast track to joining the European Union, and world renowned for its beautiful beaches, delicious food and scenic towns such as Dubrovnic, as well as spectacular ancient Roman architecture from its days as the seat of the province of Dalmatia, Croatia is a land to discover and delight in. Trinity College's evening courses in Croatian are a great place to start. Croatia is also featured in our lecture series on Central and East European Cultures. Find out more