During World War II, the University of Toronto offered extension courses in elementary and advanced Russian. Then, in 1947, Russian was introduced into the program of honour courses as an optional subject. In 1949, the Department of Slavic Studies came into being, thanks to a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1951, the MA program was introduced, and in 1962, the Ph.D. program was established.
The Department is renowned across the continent for the breadth of our offerings on both the undergraduate and the graduate levels. Most other North American Slavic Departments concentrate on Russian and may have one or two other Slavic areas represented mainly at the graduate level. Our department offers undergraduate and graduate courses not only in Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Croatian, Serbian, and Macedonian language, literature, and culture, but also houses Finno-Ugric Studies with instruction in Finnish and Estonian language, literature, and culture. Our departmental literature programs are especially strong in nineteenth and twentieth century literary and cultural history, modernism, avant-garde and contemporary movements, literary theory, drama, cinema, and Slavic-Jewish cultural relations. Our departmental linguistics unit has particular strengths in historical linguistics, dialectology, the study of verbal categories, and socio-linguistics. Students are advised to consult the list of our faculty members and the description of their particular areas of expertise for more details
Over the last decade curricula in all the languages, literatures, and cultures taught in our Department have been rewritten to mirror the dramatic social, cultural, and political changes in Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe. Our department has developed new areas of research and expertise. Due to extensive internal cooperation and interdisciplinary focus we have found new common ground among our disciplines and we promote the study of the interrelations of these culture.
Our graduate students come from across Canada, as well as from U.S. institutions and international universities. They have been successful in the North American academic job market because we have insisted on strong language skills and advanced training in more than one national literature or, in the case of linguistics, more than one language. We also expect graduate students to take courses in cognate departments. In the past ten years our Ph.D. graduates have competed successfully for academic positions at McGill, Memorial, Calgary, Victoria, Queen's College, Northwestern, the Universities of Denver, Florida, Kansas, Utah, Virginia, Southern Illinois, Willamette College, and the University of Novi Sad (Serbia).
Our department has long been one of the leaders in Slavic and Finno-Ugric Studies in North America, and the only top-ranked department in Canada. We have an international faculty recruited from excellent graduate programs. Not surprisingly, surveys have placed us consistently in the top two or three departments in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences for student satisfaction. All faculty members are engaged in research and faculty grants include: SSHRC, ACLS, Soros, Fulbright, and International Research and Exchanges board, NEH. In addition to individual research projects, the faculty of our department edit the following journals: Bulletin of the North American Chekhov Society, From the Other Shore: Russian Writers Abroad, Past and Present, Journal of Finnish Studies, Toronto Slavic Quarterly (an international electronic journal of Slavic literature and culture), Tolstoy Studies Journal, Ukrainian Literature, The Journal of Ukrainian Studies.
The Department houses programs in Estonian and Finnish Studies, and the Toronto branch of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, which includes the editorial offices of CIUS Press and the Hrushevsky Translation Project. The Department works closely with:
The University of Toronto Library is one of the leading research libraries in the world and has over 500,000 volumes in its Slavic and East European collection. It also subscribes to some 1,800 periodicals in the Slavic field. The main strength of the collection lies in its holdings in Slavic languages and literatures (altogether ca. 75,000 volumes in book form and 5,000 volumes in microform), making it the finest and most comprehensive accumulation of research materials in those disciplines available in any Canadian library. The Library also houses the Petro Jacyk Research Centre, which provides access to multi-media resources and special Slavic-focused resources such as the Zdunic Gift for Croatian Books.