When I started at U-M, I hesitated over whether to sign up for Ancient Greek or Russian. I choose Russian because I figured that in addition to the prospect of reading Dostoevsky in the original someday, it would also help me find work after college. Russian has been important to my professional life, but the language, literature, culture, and the political reality of Russia has colored many other parts of my life in the decade plus since I took Russian 101 at U-M.
I graduated with concentrations in both Russian and Comparative Literature in 2008, spending my last semester of college studying abroad at the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow. After my time in Moscow, I longed to return to Eastern Europe, but I moved to Chicago to teach English as a Second Language to immigrants and refugees first. Then I found a job teaching English in Kyiv, Ukraine, a city I loved. I picked up a little bit of Ukrainian, but I found it all too easy to get along in Kyiv with Russian. Not satisfied with teaching ESL in the long term, I began working as a freelance editor and translator and found a job working remotely as an editor of Russian-to-English translations for the now-defunct Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
After a few years of working as an editor and writer, I decided it was time to apply to graduate school and consider seriously the possibility of becoming a professor. Ultimately I decided not to pursue a PhD and an academic career, but I earned an M.A. in the Department of Comparative Literature at Indiana University and my time there was rewarding. I continued to be engaged in the world of Russian and Eastern European Studies, especially in Russian literature and Soviet cinema.
I was awarded a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship so I could continue studying Russian. My graduate work in Comparative Literature was varied, but included more than one paper about the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, as well as translations of short stories by Andrei Platonov.
After finishing my M.A., I found a position as an assistant editor in acquisitions at the Indiana University Press. One attraction of IU Press was its history with Russian and Eastern European Studies, and I realized, only after working at the press for a while, that Indiana had published a collection of Russian short stories that was part of my initial exposure to the world of Russian literature. I’m hopeful that I’ll continue translating from Russian, and that my career in publishing may afford me more opportunities to work with Russian literature and literature in translation more generally.