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Archived teaching schedules 2017–2018
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VENS19/RUST5 Seeing Russian Society and Literature through Language Corpora 5 ECTS
Period I Period II Period III Period IV
Language of instruction
Type or level of studies
Advanced studies
Course unit descriptions in the curriculum
DP in Russian Language, Culture and Translation
Faculty of Communication Sciences

General description

Corpus linguistics can be broadly described as a study of large amounts of texts presented in a machine-readable form. In recent decades, diverse types of corpus studies have gained popularity in linguistics, allowing scholars to draw more grounded conclusions about vocabulary and grammar. However, corpus linguistics can also serve as a tool for interdisciplinary studies at the intersection of linguistics, literary studies, digital humanities, cultural studies, and sociology. Corpus linguistics facilitates so-called “distant reading” of various sources, allowing a scholar to obtain both reliable statistics on the use of specific words, constructions, etc., as well as examples of their use, and these data turn out to be extremely valuable for the study various cultural processes.

After a brief introduction to corpus linguistics, the course will consist of two parts. In the first part, we will discuss the corpora available for studying Russian language and culture, and in the second part we will perform case studies based both on the Russian literature and on more recent texts such as social media, etc. These case studies will cover a broad range of topics, e.g., the rise of gender-neutral language in Russian, the functioning of memes originating on the Web in the Russian-speaking community, etc.

 Course requirements

The course will be held in English. However, at least an intermediate knowledge of Russian (CEFR B1) is required.

The final grade will be calculated based on participation (25%) and a final 10-page research essay (75%), which is supposed to present a case study on a course-relevant topic selected by the student.

Tentative syllabus


  1. Corpus linguistics: A brief overview.


  1. Russian National Corpus: representing “Standard Russian” of the last 250 years.
  2. Russian National Corpus and Stihi.ru: poetic corpora of Russian classical poetry and modern lay poetry.
  3. Prozhito.org: personal diaries from the 1st half of the 20th century.
  4. Integrum: a collection of Russian press.
  5. Google Ngram Viewer: accumulating Russian-language books.
  6. ruTenTen, Araneum Russicum Maximum and other Web corpora: representing Russian language of the Web.
  7. General Internet Corpus of Russian (GIKR): large-scale corpora of Russian social media (VK.com, Livejournal, Mail.ru blogs).

Case studies

  1. Keyword analysis of Russian literary texts. How can one describe the œuvre of a writer without actually reading it?
  2. How homogeneous is Russian? Regional variation in Modern Russian captured by language corpora.
  3. How to call a female poet: poèt, poètessa, or poètka? Feminism, gender neutrality, and the Russian language.
  4. The life-cycle of a meme. How do popular memes like preved medved evolve, stabilize, and die?

 Basic reading list for the course

  1. Kopotev, Mikhail, Olga Lyashevskaya, and Arto Mustajoki (eds). 2018. Quantitative approaches to the Russian language. London; New York: Routledge.
  2. Koteyko, Nelya. 2014. Language and politics in Post-Soviet Russia: A corpus-assisted approach. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Further references can be found in Kopotev et al. (eds.) (2018: 24–29).

Enrolment for University Studies

Enrolment time has expired


Mikhail Mikhailov, Teacher responsible
Aleksandr Piperski, Teacher


23-Apr-2018 – 26-Apr-2018
Lectures 8 hours + 8 hours Web-based
Mon 23-Apr-2018 at 16-18, B 4115
Tue 24-Apr-2018 at 16-18, B 4115
Wed 25-Apr-2018 at 16-18, B 4115
Thu 26-Apr-2018 at 16-18, B 4115