The Department of Russian Language and Literature
The origin of the Department of Russian Language and Literature can be traced back to Jingshi Tongwenguan (The Capital House of Foreign Languages), founded in 1862 by the Qing government. The following year saw the establishment of the Russian House, which was later incorporated into the Imperial Capital University (renamed as Peking University in 1912) with the new name of School of Translation. In 1910, the University started the Russian Literature Program. Nine years later, the program swelled into a department, one of the earliest fourteen departments of the university. Zhang Ximan, a distinguished social activist and Russian philologist, participated in the formation of the department and then taught here for a long time. In the 1920s, the famous Russian writer Tretyakov and sinologist Ivanov came to teach the Russian literature. The year of 1951 witnessed a nationwide reform of higher education. With the joint efforts of Peking University and Tsinghua University, Russian Department was formally built under the presidency of the distinguished translator Cao Jinghua. Renowned scholars such as Li Yuzhen(Yu Zhen), Tian Baoqi, Wang Minyuan, Wei Zhen, Long Renfang, and Zhang Qiuhua were brought together to shape the Russian Department today. Particularly, they were to make great contributions to discipline construction, curriculum design and a talent cultivation system.
In 1978, the department was authorized to offer master’s degree in Russian Language and Literature, and doctoral degree in 1990. Our major fields of research include the Russian and Soviet literature, Russian grammar, translation theory and practice, the Russian culturology, and comparative literature and culture. In 1999, English Department, Russian Department, the Department of Oriental Languages and Culture, and the Department of Western Languages and Literature were combined into School of Foreign Languages. Russian Department then became officially known as the Department of Russian Language and Literature.
The department now consists of three divisions: Russian Language Teaching and Research Division, Russian Literature and Culture Division, and the Division of Russian for the non-majors. 18 teachers (up to January 2010) are currently working in the department, among whom there are four professors, thirteen associate professors and one lecturer. Fifteen of them hold a doctor’s degree (earned either in China or in Russia). The department maintains good cooperative relationships with many universities (especially Moscow State University) and institutions in Russia. Every year, one foreign teacher will be invited to give lectures and a number of undergraduates, graduate students and teachers will go to Russia on a short/long-term learning trip, engaging themselves in projects of further education.
From 1954 to 1956, the Russian department initiated courses of Polish and Czech languages in China. In 2008, the department began to offer Basic Czech, an elective course for graduates. Recently, it is planning to provide a Georgian language course for all students at Peking University.
The Russian Department enrolls annually some 18 undergraduates, 10 graduate students and several doctoral candidates. Professional knowledge and language skills training have always been its foci. By making full use of the abundant learning resources available at the university, students are encouraged to know well the conditions and culture of the target country and to minor in other disciplines for efficient construction and refinement of their knowledge base. The department also provides Russian courses for non-Russian majors. Outstanding undergraduate students can be recommended to pursue their graduate study without taking the National Graduate Entrance Examination. Our doctorate education has been incorporated into a joint Ph. D. program between Peking University and Moscow University. Graduates of the Russian Department often serve as the backbone in various fields like government service, foreign affairs, finance and trade, culture and education as well as news and publication.
Our areas of research strength are the history of Russian literature, studies of classical writers, literary translation, Old Russian, semantics, phonetics, discourse linguistics, comparative studies of Chinese and Russian, psychology and teaching methodology as well as language and culture.
To our teachers, teaching and research can go hand in hand with each other. Besides offering lectures, they will also attempt to pursue a great number of academic achievements such as publishing papers, composing and translating monographs, translating literary masterworks, and compiling dictionaries and textbooks.
 Up to now, seven professors have been conferred the title of Senior Translator. They are Wei Zhen, Gong Renfang, Zhang Youfu, Zang Zhonglun, Gu Yunpu, Li Mingbin and Li Yuzhen. Gu Yunpu was given the National Rainbow Award for Best Literary Translation due to his contribution to the translation and study of Russian poetry. Wu Yiyi, Li Mingbin, Li Yuzhen, and Ren Guangxuan were respectively given the Pushkin Medal by Russia to award their contributions to the study of Russian language and literature. Li Mingbin, Gu Yunpu and Ren Guangxuan were winners of the “Gorky Prize” medals and certificates. Wu Yiyi was given the Putin Medal for his extraordinary efforts in promoting Russian learning in China. With Cao Jinghua as the editor-in-chief, and Zhang Qiuhua, Yue Feng Lin, and Li Bin as its deputy editors, a three-volume edition of A History of Russian and Soviet Literature is a collective achievement of the Russian Department. Being China's first systematic, comprehensive general history of Russian and Soviet literature, the first volume received the Grand Prize of National Excellent Textbooks. In 1995, the book was given the first Excellent Works Award by Foreign Literature Teaching Research Association of Chinese Higher Education. In 2008, it was ranked among 100 outstanding works in humanities and social sciences for the past 30 years of reform and opening-up.