The Soviet 1960s: A Multiliteracies Approach to Intermediate Russian

Spring 2022 Fellow: Sabrina Jaszi

Despite the adoption of a “Multiliteracies” framework in many FL classrooms (Kern, 2000; Paesani, Allen, & Dupuy, 2016; Swaffer and Arens, 2005), a text-centered approach has been slow to catch on in Russian language pedagogy. The need for explicit grammar instruction provides an obstacle, but a holistic, text-focused approach still offers students of Russian the opportunity to build cultural competency and to achieve higher levels of literacy earlier in their studies. In this approach, grammar may be learned through sustained and close attention to texts, reinforced by explicit instruction and student-led activities. As a BLC fellow, I designed a content-based course that builds on the multiliteracies framework, developing materials that address the grammatical and lexical topics of intermediate Russian in the context of literature, film, and other media of the Khrushchev Thaw.I chose this theme because youth-centric texts of the period are particularly relatable and accessible to university students. Featured works include the 1964 film comedy I Walk the Streets of Moscow (Я шагаю по Москве) and a stylistically and politically daring 1960 translation of The Catcher in the Rye (Над пропастью во ржи) by Rita Rait-Kovaleva. The course is structured around three thematic modules: “Sincerity and Stalin’s Legacy,” “Youth Culture and Generational Conflict,” and “Internationalism and Multiculturalism.” Each module includes primary and accompanying secondary readings, a list of grammatical and lexical topics, and activities that address these topics in the context of the primary readings.

The full paper will be submitted for publication.