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Здравствуйте! This fall I joined the DLLC faculty as an Assistant Professor of Russian. So far at UD, I’ve taught Russian courses at the 300 and 400 levels; I look forward to teaching 100- and 200-level courses, too, in the next couple years, so that I can learn more about how our students progress through the Russian program. I’ve also taken over as advisor of the Russian Club and soon will step into the role of undergraduate advisor for our Russian majors. I am so excited to be active and involved in all aspects of the Russian program, and in the DLLC, which has given me such a warm welcome—despite the social distancing!
I was an English major at Amherst College when I was first exposed to Russian literature my junior year in a seminar called “Strange Russian Writers”—mere weeks later, I was in my professor’s office to start remapping my life so that I could study Russian language, literature, and culture. That summer before my senior year I did an intensive Russian language program; after I graduated, I moved to Moscow for a year to continue studying the language, while teaching English to support myself. Since then, I have lived in and traveled to lesser-known parts of Russia, as far north as Petrozavodsk, the Solovki Islands, and Murmansk (where the sun never fully sets in the summer!), and as far east as Vladivostok, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, via the Trans-Siberian Railroad. I spent one summer volunteering to help build a hiking trail around Lake Baikal in Siberia, to promote eco-tourism as an alternative to Putin’s paper-processing plants. I’ve also spent a significant amount of time in Central Asia, the region of my secondary specialization; Russian still functions as a lingua franca in most of the cities, which present a fascinating mix of Russian, Soviet, and national(ist) cultures.
My primary research interests, however, are focused on Russian and Soviet narratives of trauma, such as war and the Gulag. My current book project, “Telling and Retelling a War Story: Svetlana Alexievich and Alexander Prokhanov on the Soviet-Afghan War,” examines the fluid relationships between truths, authority, facts, and documents in the unusual hybrid literary forms that each writer has produced and then repeatedly revised, from the 1980s to the present day. Unlike the Russian Civil War or World War II, the Soviet-Afghan War did not gain a stable narrative in Russian culture. As a result, its literary representations—and interpretations of these representations—have been especially sensitive to evolving political realities and agendas. Located on opposite sides of the political spectrum, Alexievich and Prokhanov tell competing narratives of the so-called “forgotten war.” My second book project on documentary modes in post-WWII Soviet and Russian literature has grown out of my work on Soviet-Afghan War literature, which often relies on or incorporates some form of “document” to convey authenticity.
After I received my PhD in Slavic Languages at Columbia University, I taught as a Term Assistant Professor at Barnard College, before accepting my current position at UD. The transition from New York City to Delaware has been a happy one for me and my six-year-old son. We have relished having a yard (!), exploring the nearby White Clay Creek State Park, and discovering one after another amazing ice creamery in the region. We both look forward to meeting everyone in the department. Go Blue Hens! Вперёд!
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