Letter from the Chair
Leaving behind the very busy school year full of intensive study, exciting events, and stimulating intellectual discussions, we congratulate our graduating class, their families, and friends. The class of ’17 was very robust, with 26 students graduating with majors and minors in Russian, Polish, and BCS. Our offerings in five Slavic languages and cultures consistently attract excellent students from a wide range of programs, so many of our graduates come out with more than one major and minor. We had solid enrollments in our classes last year, and hope to keep it this way in the future. We are consistently developing new courses addressing students’ interests by engaging them with the rich and diverse cultural creativity of Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe and Eurasia. Every year we introduce new courses which become increasingly popular with students. Next Fall Professor Aleksić is offering a new upper-level interdisciplinary course, In No Man’s Land: Walls, Migrations and Human Trafficking in the Balkans and Mediterranean (see article). And our mini-course offerings on Jewish Prague and Karel Capek for the coming fall are already fully enrolled.
Our graduate students are actively pursuing their study and research and sharing results with the professional community, most recently at the biennial convention of the Association for Women in Slavic Studies in April. In response to the increasing research interests of our students and faculty in visual culture, we invited two internationally renowned scholars in that area. Professor Sergey Zenkin from Russian State University for the Humanities discussed the visual and the imaginary aspects in Roland Barthes’s theory of photography, and Professor Anja Burghardt from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich analyzed the representations of ethnic diversity in the Soviet photography of the 1920s-1930s. Professor Sarah Lewis from Harvard gave a splendid lecture on the impact of photographs from the Caucasus on the formation of American racial imagination in the 19th century (see article).
We also had a good opportunity to discuss in depth the ongoing projects of our own faculty. Professor Maiorova presented her research on Russia’s expansion to Central Asia in the 19th century, and Professor Khagi spoke about her current book project, Mbytes of Unfreedom: Victor Pelevin’s Poetics, Politics, Metaphysics (see article).
Professor Ilya Kaminsky, an acclaimed poet, translator, and scholar from San Diego State University, conducted an engaging and inspiring discussion with a group of students and faculty about poetry and translations. A follow up to this meeting is a joint invitation to the prominent Odessa-based poet Boris Khersonsky to visit Ann Arbor and San Diego in the Winter 2018 term. Khersonsky’s visit will be a great contribution to our Ukrainian Studies Program.
This year we were very fortunate to have two visiting fellows, Professor Tatjana Rosic from Belgrade and Professor Mariana Burak from Lviv, who provided mentoring to our graduate students in Post-Yugoslav film and literature and Ukrainian language. Now our graduate students have embarked on their summer research in Bosnia, Croatia, Israel, Poland, Russia, and Japan.