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Plan II Honors

Gilbert Rappaport

ProfessorPh.D., UCLA

Gilbert Rappaport


  • Phone: 512 471 3607
  • Office: CAL 415
  • Campus Mail Code: F3600


Linguistic theory: syntax, morphology, and grammatical categories, Structure of Russian and Polish, Polish culture, Language and public discourse, The music of Shostakovich


T C 357 • Diaspora & Identity: Ethnicity

42960 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CRD 007B


Patterns of origin and dispersal have occurred continuously over the course of human history as people have spread throughout the world and spontaneously developed definitions of group identity in new and changing environments. Scholars are now engaged in innovative multidisciplinary approaches to the study of human diaspora, synthesizing the knowledge and methodologies of individual disciplines such as archaeology, cultural and physical anthropology, linguistics, geology, and genetics, aided by sophisticated computer simulations. In fact, diaspora and the reinvention of group identity in a new environment is the norm, not the exception, and it continues before our eyes.

The course begins by looking at the grand-daddy of diasporas, the spread of our species beginning 50-60,000 years ago, from its origin in Africa throughout the globe. The idea is to understand the mechanisms by which, in simpler times, ethnic and other group identities developed and were transmitted over time. In the second half we will `apply' these principles to their modern analogues in our more complex environment: immigration, life in diaspora, and the confrontation of indigeneous peoples with their conquerors. An important element of modernity is the creation of administrative states and the ideology of nationalism, designed to reinforce, suppress, or manipulate more spontaneous self-identities of social and ethnic identity. While we will read sociological, anthropological, even legal texts, the focus will be on artistic genres of literature and even film, marshaled to confront issues of origin and identity in diaspora as individuals and groups continue to negotiate who they are ... and aren't.

The class will be conducted in seminar format with an emphasis on synthesizing information from various sources, formulating a position, and presenting that position effectively in both written and oral form.


Cavalli-Sforza, L. L. 2000. Genes, peoples, and languages. New York: North Point Press.

Olson, Steve. 2002. Mapping human history: Discovering the past through our genes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Renfrew, C. 1990. Archaeology and language: The puzzle of Indo-European origins. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wells, Spencer. 2002. Journey of man: A genetic odyssey. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


Several films will be viewed, including ‘Do the Right Thing’ (1989) or ‘Jungle Fever’ (1991) by Spike Lee, ‘Mississippi Masala’ by Mira Nair, ‘El Norte’ (1983) by Gregory Nava, and ‘The Gods Must be Crazy’ (1981), by Jamie Uys.



Papers: 60%

Two shorter papers (~1000 words each)

Term paper (at least 3000 words, expanding on one of the shorter papers)

Oral presentations (summaries and interpretation of the readings): 25%

General active class participation: 15%

Undergraduate Courses

Fall 2011 RUS 330/REE 325/HMN 350/CL 323 "Historical Survey of RUssian Music"

Degree credit. This course:

  • Satisfies core curriculum requirements for an undergraduate degree with flags for Writing and for Global Cultures;
    • Satisfies the Fine Arts/General culture Area D requirement for a B.A., Plan I, as an Alternative course
    • Counts toward a major or minor in either Russian or in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies
    • Can serve as an elective in any degree plan
    • Under certain conditions (consult the graduate advisor) it can count toward the M.A. degree in:
        - Slavic Languages and Cultures; or
        - Russian  East European, and Eurasian Studies

Prerequisites: Upper-Division or graduate standing.  Exceptions may be granted with permission of the instructor. No knowledge of Russian or of how to read/play music is required.

Content: The course will survey the following four general areas of music associated with Russia over the course of its history:

  • Art (classical) music in Russian is widely considered to have begun with Glinka (1804‑57), but its development in the 19th and 20th centuries includes many great names in the history of art music, such as Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich, along with other outstanding figures and movements.  We will focus on Glinka as the pioneer, then the most Russian of the Russian composers, Mussorgsky, followed by the mystical Skriabin, Stravinsky in his Russian period, and Prokofiev and Shostakovich in the Soviet period.
  • Sacred (religious, ecclesiastical) music was intimately bound up with the history and practice of Christianity in Russia, which was officially adopted from Byzantium in the tenth century. Special attention will be paid to the role of music in the religious rites practiced today (documented by the Moscow Patriarchate on its website!).
  • Traditional (folk) music in Russia is extremely rich and varies greatly over the wide terrain of the country. We will sample the variety of genres and structures used in various rites of passage (especially courtship/ weddings and laments), calendar rites, work songs, lyric songs, epics, and dances. Not to mention the famous Russian chastushka, which exercises wit, linguistic invention, and competitive skills.
  • We briefly illustrate the role of popular music in both Czarist and Soviet times, including the popular `romances’, the Soviet invention of the `mass song’, the `bards’ of the 60’s and 70’s, and, time-permitting, contemporary popular music.

While the course will survey of the fundamental and indispensible notions of musical structure and genre, the focus of the course is the role of music in its social and historical context. We will be particularly interested in questions of interpretation/reception  and the cultural function of music

Texts: There is no textbook for the course. There will be numerous handouts and postings on the course Blackboard site, including lecture notes, which should be kept in a loose-leaf binder. Course packets may be made available for purchase.

Fall 2011 RUS 324 "Third-Year Russian I"

Course Content: This course is the fifth semester of Russian language instruction. It is a practical advanced all-round language course, based on the communicative-functional approach to language learning. We have two goals.

  • Develop functional linguistic proficiency in the four basic skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
  • Acquire practical linguo-cultural competence, encompassing both high and popular culture.

The textbook by Rifkin, a systematic review of Russian grammar, serves as a skeleton for the course structure. It will be supplemented by Paperno’s DVD course, with a plethora of multi-media materials, along with various other authentic materials determined by student interest, to develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. Special attention will be paid to the contemporary mass media not only as linguistic material, but also as a point of access to Russian culture in its various forms. The course is conducted in Russian. At the end of the year (after this course and its successor Russian 325), most students should have achieved a proficiency level of 2 on the ILR scale (comparable to Advanced on the ACTFL scale).

The textbook has 25 chapters. We will cover chapters 1-12 in the fall semester, spending more time on some than on others. 

Graduate Courses

Fall 2010 RUS 390/REE 385 Medieval Slavic Manuscripts

Course Description

Old Church Slavonic (OCS) is the first literary language in the Slavic world, defined by a set of religious texts translated by the Apostles to the Slavs (Cyril and Methodius) and their followers in the ninth through eleventh centuries, first in Moravia  (today’s Czech Republic), and then in Bulgaria.  This historical language served as the linguistic model for ecclesiastical texts in the Orthodox Slavic world and remains a source of stylistic richness in the corresponding languages today, exploited in everything from poetry to journalistic writing.

This course is anchored by the selective study of historical texts forming the OCS canon, but will range from there to include:

The historical and social context in which those original texts arose.

The spread of Church Slavonic literacy in the early Middle Ages and its adaption to local circumstances (including the Dalmatian tradition in Catholic Croatia!)

The medieval evolution of Old Church Slavonic into local ‘recensions’, with special emphasis on the Russian recension.

The use of Church Slavonic for religious purposes in the Russian Orthodox Church up to today, including:

            Inscriptions, which identify icons and other forms of religious art.

            Religious hymns and prayers

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