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Unit information: Russian Language Culture and Nation in 2015/16

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Unit name Russian Language Culture and Nation
Unit code RUSS30061
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Argent
Open unit status Not open

RUSS10001 or RUSS10036, RUSS20008



School/department Department of Russian
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will consider language culture in Russia in relation to national identity. We will examine connections between present-day concerns and language culture in the past, for example the debates on language and national identity at the turn of the nineteenth century and beyond. The unit will explore how metadiscourse – talk about talk – can be used as a tool to drive a political agenda. Using text analysis and concrete examples, we will examine how long-established ideas about the character of the ‘great and mighty Russian language’ are used in post-Soviet times for nation building and consolidation. Selected primary materials in Russian will be used as well as secondary sources (scholarly articles and monographs), predominantly in English.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will a), through the prism of language culture and policy, gain knowledge of the history of Russian national identity construction and b) be able to trace the intellectual history of current metalinguistic debates. They will c) draw on their first-hand experience of contemporary Russian language culture during their year abroad, putting this experience into historical context and d) acquiring theoretical tools to examine debates about language critically. Students will e) develop their oral communication skills by giving presentations and contributing to seminar discussions. Students will also f) advance their skills in expressing their own arguments in writing. Working on in-class group tasks, they will g) gain teamwork experience and exchange peer to peer feedback. They will h) read and analyse primary and secondary sources, thereby furthering their analytic skills as well as their Russian language ability.

Teaching Information


Assessment Information

essay 3000w (60%), testing ILOs a, b, d, f, h seminar presentation (25%) (ILOs a, b, c, d, e, h), class test (commentary exercise: 15%) (ILOs a, b, d, f, h)

Reading and References

Gasparov, Boris. "Identity in Language?" National Identity in Russian Culture: An Introduction. Eds. Simon Franklin and Emma Widdis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. pp.132-148.

Gorham, Michael (2009) ‘Linguistic Ideologies, Economies, and Technologies in the Language Culture of Contemporary Russia (1987-2008)’. Journal of Slavic Linguistics 17.1-2. 163-192.

Joseph, John E. Language and Identity: National, Ethnic, Religious. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Khairov, Shamil. “Slavianskaia lingvisticheskaia imagologiia segodnia: ‘obrazy iazyka’ i sposoby ikh sopriazheniia s mental’nost’iu i kul’turoi.” GLASGOW DSpace SERVICE: Working Papers, Technical Reports, Theses and Pre-prints. University of Glasgow, 2003. 31st October 2012 <>.

Ryazanova-Clarke, Lara (2006) “ ‘The State Turning to Language’: Power and Identity in Russian Language Policy Today.” Russian Language Journal 56. 37-55.

Seifrid, Thomas. The Word Made Self: Russian Writings on Language, 1860-1930. Ithaca; London: Cornell University Press, 2005.