We have started the new academic year with solid enrollments in our language and culture classes, and I would like to thank our staff for their dedication and creativity in promoting our classes around campus! Our superb team of lecturers is working hard on developing new, technologically enhanced methodologies of language instruction supported by the generous New Initiatives/New Infrastructure grant from LSA. I am happy to welcome our new Assistant Professor, Ania Aizman, who has joined our department as a Postdoctoral Scholar in Michigan’s Society of Fellows. This semester she is teaching a first-year seminar on the exciting topic “Radical Russia: Writers, Artists, Revolutionaries.” We are also delighted to co-host, jointly with the Residential College, the prominent Moscow theater director Irina Khutsieva who is now rehearsing two plays, in Russian and in English, with enthusiastic teams of students. At our November colloquium, Mrs. Khutsieva shared her experience of running a small theater in Moscow.
In May, four of our Ph.D. students participated in a graduate workshop at the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) in Moscow. The workshop program was designed by our Russian colleagues specifically to help our students navigate Russia’s cultural space. Students learned about current research projects in their areas of interest, met with the prominent literary critic Galina Yuzefovich, visited museums, met curators and archivists, and visited the headquarters of the innovative web-based education project Arzamas. We look forward to developing our cooperation with RANEPA. Graduate student Michael Martin shares his experience on page 8.
Our fall schedule is full of exciting events. In October, we had a rare opportunity for discussion with Dubravka Ugrešić, a prominent Croatian writer and a scholar of Russian and comparative literature, about her new novel Fox. In November, Professor Sabine Koller from the University of Regensburg gave a lecture on Marc Chagall, the Jewish Renaissance and the Art of Painting. In December, our department will co-sponsor, jointly with CREES, a talk by another prominent scholar from Regensburg, Professor Ulf Brunnbauer, titled “Class, Culture, and the‘Gastarbeiters’: Contested Meanings of Labor Migration in Socialist Yugoslavia.” Our academic ties with the University of Regensburg are strengthened by Professor Jindrich Toman who is spending his fall research leave at this premier center of Slavic studies in Germany. Professor Toman is finishing his book project on Jewish culture in Bohemia in the nineteenth century. By developing our international contacts with leading universities in Europe, we offer our undergraduate and graduate students great opportunities to learn about East and Central European cultures firsthand.
As part of the college-wide initiative to expand the diversity of our student body, and building on the success of our event last year, we organized another preview weekend event for prospective Ph. D. students. We invited outstanding undergraduate students in Slavic studies from across the U.S. to spend a few days in Ann Arbor and get a taste of graduate school. This year we joined forces with the Departments of Comparative Literature and Germanic Languages and Literatures. On our part, this effort was led by our new Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Benjamin Paloff.
Wishing you wonderful fall and winter seasons!