Comps Part 1
Russian Comps Part 1
The goal of the first part of the Russian Comprehensive exercise is to ensure that all Russian majors have a basic knowledge of the broad outlines of Russian literature, history and culture before embarking on a narrowly focused research project. In preparing for this exam, you will be doing two different things: 1) reviewing all material you have had in Carleton classes and in Moscow with the goal of integrating facts and concepts in a variety of different ways and 2) filling in gaps by learning a bit about names, terms and concepts that may not have been explicitly covered in class.
The following is a list of names, events and terms that we believe comprise a rudimentary ‚Äúencyclopedia of cultural literacy‚ÄĚ for the Carleton Russian major. The list is organized chronologically, although there are many items that do not fit comfortably in a chronological slot. We do not expect you to have read all the literary works included in the list, but you should know the titles in Russian and be familiar with the works in their literary/historical context. In addition, you should be able to identify by sight the works of painting, sculpture and architecture listed at the end.
We do not intend for you to prepare for your exam simply by memorizing a list of facts. Instead, you should use the items in this list as points of reference for reviewing and organizing your knowledge of Russian culture. You should review class syllabi, bibliographies and class notes, and consult the reference sources cited at the end of your majors guide. In many cases print sources will be more helpful than electronic sources.
On the examination itself you will be asked in various combinations (identifications, lists to be identified for commonalities, short essay questions) to identify terms selected from your list.
In addition, the exam will contain longer essay questions based mainly on material you have had in class or on the Moscow program. Often there is a choice of essay topic to accommodate students who have taken different courses. Obviously, we expect you to be able to discuss material you have had in class in greater depth than terms you are learning here for the first time.
You will be asked to turn in a list of 10 novels and 10 short prose works you are prepared to discuss. You should also be prepared to discuss poetry, films and plays covered in classes or on the program.
Here is one possible approach to preparing for the exam.
- Using your notes and syllabi from your courses, go through the list and note which terms were covered in which class. Group the terms from each class together and review them in conjunction with a thorough review of the course material. Supplement your notes with information from reference sources as needed. Be sure to take systematic notes so you can review them immediately before the exam.
- Identify sections of the list where you are starting from scratch and use the reference resources to learn about them in context. This approach will be far more efficient and beneficial than looking up each term in isolation.
- As a bare minimum, you should be able to write one or two sentences (including dates where appropriate) about every term on the list. Large index cards with the term on one side and a paragraph on the other are helpful for reviewing and drilling.
- Once you have reviewed your class notes and are familiar with everything on the list, think about ways that the material can be regrouped and integrated in different ways. For example, you should be able to create a timeline of tsars and leaders from Peter the Great on.
- Be sure there are some topics on which you are prepared to write in depth. Think of these as ‚Äúislands‚ÄĚ to which you can always return if you start to feel like you are drowning.
- Once you feel comfortable with the details, return to the big picture. What are some of the large themes that have resurfaced in a number of contexts over the course of your Russian career?
- We hope you will help each other prepare, but be wary of materials circulating from previous generations of students. Their notes will be of little help to you, and we know from the answers we get that there are some calcified errors in these materials.