Letter from the Chair
It was a busy summer for us at the Department, with many of our faculty and students traveling, doing research, and presenting their work in Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Croatia, and Serbia. Three faculty members presented papers in June at the ASEES-MAG Convention in Lviv, Ukraine. Back in Ann Arbor, we had a record number of four dissertation defenses between May and August, and one more defense scheduled for the winter. Two of our summer graduates already have jobs: Meghan Forbes accepted a lecturer position in Czech at the University of Texas at Austin, and Jodi Greig teaches in our Department at U-M, offering an advanced-level undergraduate course on gender, feminism, and women writers in Eastern Europe.
The Fall semester brought impressive student enrollments in our classes, defying the general downward trend in the Humanities across the country. As usual, we offered a broad range of classes at all levels, from first-year seminars to advanced graduate courses, covering our five linguistic areas. Professor Olga Maiorova is teaching a newly revised introductory survey of Russian culture and we are refocusing our traditional monograph courses to make them more attractive for diverse student constituencies.
We are fortunate to have two visitors this fall: Dr. Mariana Burak, a Fulbright Fellow from Lviv and Professor Tatjana Rosić Ilić, a Weiser Center Fellow from Belgrade, who graciously offered to work with our graduate and undergraduate students in Ukrainian and BCS. In September, Professor Rosić Ilić shared her current research at our graduate colloquium, presenting a paper titled, “Revolutionary Melancholy, Narratives of Paternity and the Project of a ‘Perfect Biography’ in the Work of Danilo Kiš,” and discussed various theater interpretations of Kiš’s
famous novel A Tomb for Boris Davidovich.
The beginning of the school year was marked by the exhibition Invisible Women: Portrait of Aging in Ukraine (click here to read more). The heartfelt talks by the artists about their work and experience in Ukraine attracted a significant audience and generated a lively discussion.
In October, we had two distinguished visitors. In her talk, “Visionary Poetry after the Fall: Khersonsky, Kruglov, Sedakova, and Shvarts,” Professor Stephanie Sandler, Chair of the Slavic Department at Harvard University, spoke about her forthcoming book on contemporary Russian poetry. Professor Karen Evans-Romaine, from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, conducted a language pedagogy workshop on the highly important topic of attracting students to Slavic languages and enabling them to succeed. This will be one in a series of events on teaching languages organized by Svitlana Rogovyk, our Director of Language Studies.
In March, we will be hosting Sarah Lewis, Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture and African American Studies at Harvard University and acclaimed author and exhibition curator. In her talk, “From Frederick Douglass to Leo Tolstoy: Race and the Thought Pictures of the Caucasus,” she will discuss how the emerging technology of photography was used to develop myths of Caucasian racial identity (and by extension racial purity) in the nineteenth century.
Best Wishes and Happy Holidays,