Graduate Program

The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures offers graduate students the opportunity to study in depth the literatures, cultures, and languages of Bosnia / Croatia / Serbia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine. The Department offers interdisciplinary and comparative work across the cultures of the Slavic world.

Doctoral candidates in the Department specialize either in:

but are required to gain some knowledge of the other field as well.

Graduate Courses

The Department offers a wide range of graduate seminars; our offerings change from year to year, but recent courses have included the following:

Authors and Reading Courses 
• Pushkin
• Gogol
• Dostoevsky
• Tolstoy
• Chekhov
• Nabokov
• Reading Anna Karenina

Periods and Genres 
• The Culture of Medieval Rus’: Art, Architecture, Ritual, Literature
• 18th-Century Russian Literature
• Russian Pastoral
• Russian Symbolist Poetry
• Russian Poetry of the Nineteenth Century
• Russian and Soviet Silent Film
• Soviet Film after Stalin
• Russian Avant-Garde Theater
• Russian Futurism and Formalism
• Poetry after Brodsky: How Russian is it?
• Elegy: The Art of Losing

Thematic, theoretical, and linguistics seminars
• Theory of Narrative
• Literature as Institutions
• Russian Intellectual History
• Poetic Self-Creation in Twentieth-Century Russia
• Sex and Self in Russian Poetry
• The Power of the Powerless: Dissidents from Socrates to Václav Havel
• Comparative Slavic Linguistics
• Introduction to East Slavic Languages

Ukrainian, Czech, and Polish 
• East Central European Novel after World War II
• Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Prague: A Cultural History
• Communism and the Politics of Culture: Czechoslovak Literary Culture after World War II
• Polish Postwar Poetry
• Milosz and America
• War and Literature: Responses to World War II in Polish Culture
• Revolutionary Ukraine: Between the Russian Revolution and the Euromaidan of 2014 
• Russian-Ukrainian Literary Relations
• Twentieth-Century Ukrainian Poetry

Students work closely with faculty in their major fields to create a program oriented around particular interests; course work is possible in allied fields as well. All students study Old Church Slavonic, as well as taking a course on the structure of Russian designed to prepare them for teaching language courses in their third year.

The Department does not admit candidates for a terminal A.M. degree. Ph.D. candidates may, however, apply for a master’s degree after having completed, with satisfactory grades, eight half-courses that satisfy Department requirements. 

If you are interested in a terminal A.M. degree, please review information on the Master’s Degree in Regional Studies: Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (REECA) offered by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies


Through the pre-generals period and until the time a prospectus is approved, the Director of Graduate Studies advises all graduate students. When a student submits their prospectus to the department, however, they also names an advisor to direct the dissertation as first reader, and recommends the second and third readers as well. Once the department approves the prospectus, the student will work with these three faculty members as needed throughout the dissertation process. At the beginning of each term, the Director of Graduate Studies is responsible for meeting with all the graduate students and signing study cards.

Department Intellectual and Social Life

Department faculty and graduate students gather monthly at Literary Colloquia (held at a faculty residence) to hear a paper by a current graduate student or invited guest speaker.

The Department also runs a bi-weekly GSAS workshop, Current Research in Russian and East European Literature and Culture, which provides a forum for graduate students to discuss their research and professional preparations.

The Davis Center Literature and Culture Seminar, run by Slavic Department faculty together with graduate students, hosts guest speakers from outside institutions several times each semester.

The Davis Center also sponsors special seminars in conjunction with the Fellows Seminar, the theme of which changes each year. 

All Department members are welcome to attend the colloquia and sponsored guest lectures.

Department's ties around Harvard

The department maintains close working ties with other departments and groups studying the Slavic world at Harvard:

Slavic Resources at Harvard

The collections of the Slavic Division at Widener Library offer resources for the study and research of Slavic culture without parallel at any American university. 

The Harvard Film Archive houses an extensive and unique collection devoted to Russian and Ukrainian cinema, which includes 35- and 16-millimeter films.


Preparation for the Job Market

The Department requires that doctoral candidates work as teaching fellows in its language and literature courses, regarding such experience as an integral part of doctoral training. Students normally teach in the third and fourth years of study, and often beyond.

The Department also helps prepare graduate students for the job market through personalized consultations on CV's and cover letters, and through special sessions devoted to professional preparation in our graduate workshop, Current Research in Russian and East European Literature and Culture, as well as in our Department proseminar, a required course for all incoming graduate students.

The monthly literature colloquia give all graduate students the opportunity to present their work in a longer (40-50 minute) talk, which provides good practice for eventual job talks during the job search. We also conduct mock interviews to help prepare students for their job interviews at major Slavic and literature conferences, and organize practice job talks for students who are preparing for campus visits.