About Us


The Department of Slavic Languages is pleased to announce that Madeleine Kresin ’18 has been selected as its first Griffin Sean Madden Scholar.  This award was established in memory of Griffin Sean Madden ’15, a double major in Slavic Languages and Philosophy. The award is designed to enable a Berkeley undergraduate to devote a summer to the intensive study of Russian, preferably at Middlebury, where Griffin also studied.  (Funds have also been established in Griffin’s honor in the Department of Philosophy and at Cal Performances, where Griffin worked after graduation.)

Madeleine Kresin grew up in Denver, Colorado.  An English major who plays the piano, has rowed for Cal and volunteers for an adult literacy project at the Berkeley Public Library, Madeleine hopes to spend next year living and teaching English in Russia before going to graduate school in Comparative Literature.   She is minoring in Russian and has taken courses in the Slavic Department on Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Nabokov and Tolstoy and is writing her honors thesis on Daniel Deronda and Anna Karenina. Madeleine’s introduction to the Slavic Department came in her first semester at Berkeley, when she took a class on War and Peace taught by Chloë Kitzinger. Her GSI for Russian in both Russian 1 and 2 has been Maria Whittle.

The Griffin Sean Madden scholarships have been made possible by the generosity of Griffin’s family, friends, teachers and colleagues, on whom he left a lasting impression.  The fellowship in Slavic will accelerate the language study of Berkeley students who share Griffin’s enthusiasm for Russian language, literature and culture. For details and to support the fund, click here.



We study and teach the languages, literatures, and cultures of the Russian and other Slavic peoples and their immediate neighbors in East and Central Europe (Hungary and Romania) as well as the Caucasus and Central Asia (hence the terms “Eurasia” and “Eurasian”). Over the centuries, these peoples shared linguistic, literary, cultural and historical experiences, which both united and divided them. These experiences include their intermediary position between the “West” and the “East,” participation in large multi-national states and empires, membership in the Soviet bloc in the twentieth century, and, in recent decades, the transition to post-socialism. In a word, we represent peoples who have influenced the history of a large part of the world.

Our department, which celebrated its one hundredth anniversary in 2001, was one of the first departments of its kind in the United States. It was home to UC Berkeley’s only Nobel Prize winner in the Humanities, Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004). Over the years, it has remained in the vanguard of Slavic, East European and Eurasian studies because of the breadth of coverage and interdisciplinary approach to the field. Our faculty members have a wide range of interests and train students to discover the links between language, literature and other aspects of culture (including history, religious thought, visual arts, theater, film, popular culture) as well as between our subject matter and that of other related disciplines. Thus, students find that our courses complement their studies in other fields as different as History, English, Political Science, or Business.



The Slavic Department is located on Level F (6th floor) of the office wing (north wing) of Dwinelle Hall.  When visiting, it is best to enter from the north side of the building near the flag pole, and to stay in the office wing, where rooms and offices are numbered in the 1000s.  (Avoid the classroom wing, where rooms are numbered in the 100s.)  To find Dwinelle Hall, use the map linked at top right of this page.