Language Tables at Northwestern Continue Spring Quarter

The Forum for Languages and Cultures is again hosting a series of Language Tables, inviting the broader Northwestern community of faculty, students and staff to attend. Enjoy this opportunity to gather and converse in one of 13 languages in a friendly environment on campus!  Refreshments are provided by the Forum and the Office of Residential Academic Initiatives. Language Tables are open to everyone, from novice learners to native speakers. Come practice your language skills while getting to know others!

The Russian Language Table, led by Slavic graduate student Polina Maksimovich, will be held on Wednesdays at 4:00pm on April 12, April 26, May 10 and May 24.

Language Tables are in the PARC Dining Room in the Allison Dining Hall, 1820 Chicago Ave.  Sponsored by the Forum for Languages and Cultures in the Buffett Institute and the Office of Residential Academic Initiatives.  Contact: John Paluch

Carmen Finashina, PhD, and Polina Maksimovich to Teach at Loyola University

One of our recent graduates and one of our grad students will be teaching at Loyola University Chicago this year!  Carmen Finashina, PhD, received a part-time faculty position at Loyola as an instructor of Russian language, beginning in January 2017.  Polina Maksimovich will be teaching a Russian literature course at Loyola in the fall.  Congratulations!

Students Enjoy Eugene Onegin at Lyric Opera

oneginMore than 20 graduate and undergraduate students from Slavic Languages and Literatures, as well as several faculty, headed to the Lyric Opera in March to see an outstanding performance of Eugene Onegin

The music was composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and the libretto was based on a verse novel by Alexander Pushkin.  The first performance of Eugene Onegin was in Moscow in 1879.  Lead roles in this show at the Lyric were performed by Polish, Puerto-Rican, American and Russian singers, including Mariusz Kwiecien, Ana Maria Martinez, Charles Castronovo, Alisa Kolosova and Dmitry Belosselskiy.  Bravo!

Congratulations to Jessica Castellanos on her Adventures in Kazakhstan

Jessica in KZSlavic major Jessica Castellanos won a Boren Scholarship to study abroad this year with the Russian Language and Area Studies Program in Almaty, Kazakhstan, at al-Farabi Kazakh National University (KazNU).  She recently spent time in the capital, Astana, enjoying the sites and the opera, Evgeny Onegin. (She noted that President Nazarbayev also attended that performance and waved to the audience.) 

Jessica hopes to stay this summer in Astana to help as a translator for Expo 2017, an international conference focusing on renewable energy: 

In a recent email, she noted that "Delegations from all over the world are coming to show off renewable energy technologies and exchange ideas for environmental preservation from June to September 2017, right before NU goes back to school. Environmental issues are at the top of the agenda for Kazakhstan because it has so many untouched oil reserves, which China, Russia, and the US all have their eyes on... I asked if there would be any opportunities for students to help out: luckily for me [the Foreign Service Officer] said that students in my group are exactly the type of volunteers needed, thanks to our language and area knowledge."

From the website:  “Astana EXPO-2017” sets the task to gather the best developments in these fields in order to demonstrate not only the future energy, but also the problematic issues of developing countries... The leading world experts, who will meet in Astana, will discuss the ways to make “green energy”, its availability, sustainability and economy, the main development trend for further decades.

Jordan Todes Article and Alex Kohanski's Translations Published in The Birch

Slavic minor Jordan Todes had an article published in the Fall 2016 issue of The Birch His article, in the Culture section, is titled, "As We Stare into the Void:  Absence, Truth, and Cinematographic Structure in Pawel Pawlikowski's IDA."

The Spring 2016 issue of The Birch featured two poems translated into English from Russian by Slavic and Theater major Alexander Kohanski.  Alex, who is one of our Student Advisory Board representatives, traveled to St. Petersburg in June 2016 to participate in ACTR's Russian Language and Area Studies Program (RLASP).  This summer program included classes in Intensive Russian Conversation and Intensive Russian Grammar, as well as cultural programs and excursions.  Alex plans to graduate Spring 2017. 

Congratulations, Jordan and Alex!

Slavic Department Enjoys Babushkas of Chernobyl Film Outing

In April 2016, a group of 15 grad students, undergrads and friends from Slavic Languages and Literatures met downtown at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago to view The Babushkas of Chernobyl.  This poignant, uplifting documentary features several older women who were evicted after the nuclear plant explosion in 1986, yet decided to ignore warnings by the government and return to their homes within the "exclusion zone" near the destroyed nuclear facility.  They live off the land and maintain a tiny community in this sparsely populated area of Ukraine, where radiation levels remain dangerously high.  Director/Producer Holly Morris answered questions afterwards, noting that her team spent about 16 days filming in the exclusion zone, being careful to avoid prolonged exposure.  April 26, 2016 was the 30-year anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Professor Saul Morson

Congratulations to Saul Morson, Lawrence B. Dumas Professor of Arts and Humanities, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, for receiving the 2015-2016 Faculty Honor Roll Award from Associated Student Government.  Morson was also featured in College Magazine's "Top Ten Professors at Northwestern" on March 29, 2016.

Professor Morson and Northwestern University President and Economics Professor Morton Schapiro are co-editors of The Fabulous Future? America and the World in 2040 (Northwestern University Press; May 29, 2015).  Morson and Schapiro co-teach Humanities 260/Slavic 396 in winter quarter, which explores the process of decision making.

The book was inspired by Fortune magazine’s 1955 publication of The Fabulous Future: America in 1980, in which influential Americans at the time made predictions about science, technology, health and the economy 25 years in the future—many of which missed the mark.  In their introduction, Morson and Schapiro discuss their interest in asking important questions and opening a dialogue on many key issues facing America and the rest of the world.  They invited specialists from diverse fields to share their expectations for the future on topics including economics, politics, religion, health, human rights, science, technology and the environment, as well as education and communication. 

Morson and Schapiro have appeared on several TV and radio programs discussing their book, including Book TV, a C-SPAN Book Discussion (6/8/15), Chicago Tonight (6/30/15), and WGN Radio (7/6/15)

Professor Martina Kerlova

Martina Kerlovva won a 2016 Arthur Vining Davis Digital Humanities Summer Faculty Workshop stipend for her course, Prague: City of Cultures, City of Conflict, co-listed in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Department of German.

Martina is developing an interactive platform reflecting the historical, geographical and geopolitical background to the central themes discussed in the course. Her course aims to understand the development of Prague over the past two centuries from a multicultural, democratic city to a homogeneous, communist one, and ultimately to its present open and capitalist incarnation. The students in the course will research the changes that transformed Prague and make them visually more present in the classroom to enhance a multi-dimensional understanding of the discussed material.

Blair Dunbar and Weronika Wasilewski Win Fulbrights!

Slavic Major Blair Dunbar received the 2015-2016 Fulbright U.S. Student Award to Russia!  The prestigious Fulbright program is a flagship international educational exchange program.  Blair is representing the United States as a cultural ambassador while she is overseas, helping to enhance mutual understanding between Americans and Russians.  Blair also had an article published in the 2015-2016 Northwestern Undergraduate Research Journal (Vol 11), titled Why Tolstoy was Wrong: Peasant Rebellion in Post Emancipation Russia.  Weronika Wasilewski also won a Fulbright in 2016, to teach in Poland at the Philological School of Higher Education in Wroclaw, in the Faculty of Modern Languages.  Congratulations, Blair and Weronika!!!

Professor Clare Cavanagh

On December 17, 2015, Cavanagh presented at the 92nd Street Y in New York with renowned American poet Charles Simic on the works of Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012), one of Poland's most-read and best-loved poets.

A “Nobel Prize for Translators”? 

In a New York Times Book Review, Richard Lourie proposes a “Nobel-like” award for translators. “If there were such a prize,” he concludes,  “Szymborska’s translators Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh would have been awarded it at once” for Wisława Szymborska, Map: Collected and Last Poems, ed. Clare Cavanagh, tr. Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015). “Cast your eye back up on any line quoted here,” Lourie continues. “Every one seems to have been born in English.” *

The posthumous collection of Nobel Laureate Szymborska’s work was named a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice, and has received rave write-ups in other major periodicals. Booklist calls it  ‘a brilliant and important collection, in a starred review.  And Publisher’s Weekly hails “Nobel laureate Szymborska’s gorgeous posthumous collection” in another starred review.

Cavanagh (Chair, Slavic Languages and Literatures), received a PEN Translation Prize for her work, with Baranczak, on Szymborska, and her most recent scholarly book, Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics: Russia, Poland and the West, published by Yale, was given the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism.

Publishers Weekly recently interviewed Cavanagh in “How to Translate a Map: Clare Cavanagh Poetry 2015.” “Listening to Clare Cavanagh speak of translation as an art,” Jacob Victorine writes,  is a reminder that translators must be as adept as poets at working with words...Map is not only impressive because of Szymborska’s precise, intimate, and observationally funny poems...but because of Cavanagh and Baranczak’s tireless dedication in bringing them to English without sacrificing their forms." See the Publishers Weekly article about "How to Translate a Map."

See the full review on

Tatiana Filimonova

Congratulations to former Slavic PhD student Tatiana Filimonova!  In August 2015, Tatiana was appointed as an Assistant Professor of Russian at the College of Wooster, where she teaches courses in Russian language, literature and culture.  After graduating from Northwestern, Tatiana spent two years at Vanderbilt University as a Mellon Assistant Professor of Russian.  Tatiana is working on a monograph that traces the influence of Eurasianist thought on twentieth-century and contemporary Russian literature.  She has published articles on contemporary writers Vladimir Sorokin and Pavel Krusanov.

Professor Elisabeth Elliott

Elisabeth Elliott received a 2014-15 Digital/Online Project Grant from Northwestern’s Provost’s Office for her project “Flipped Яussian”.  The project creates and incorporates online components for Elementary Russian making a flipped and blended/hybrid curriculum for first-year Russian. The team working on “Flipped Яussian” also includes Slavic’s Senior Lecturer Natalia Malinina, Slavic alum Carmen Finashina, the Multimedia Learning Center (MMLC), Canvas at Northwestern, and an external consultant, Professor Fernando Rubio, Associate Professor of Spanish, Adjunct Associate Professor of Linguistics, and Co-Director of the Second Language Teaching and Research Center at the University of Utah (a leader in flipped foreign language classrooms and foreign language MOOCs).  Work on the project started in spring 2015 and continued in 2015-16, to be ready for SLAVIC 101 Elementary Russian in 2016-17.  This is Professor Elliott’s second grant from Northwestern for a Digital Humanities project. The first grant, the Arthur Vining Davis Digital Humanities Summer Faculty Workshop at Northwestern in Summer 2013, resulted in the beginnings of the online dictionaries Northwestern e-Dictionary (NeD) and WildWords and her new course LING 363/SLAVIC 322 Making a Dictionary: The Northwestern Project.  Eventually there will be a public website to follow and comment on the progress of “Flipped Яussian”. Once it’s up and running we’ll post the URL on the Slavic web page. Until then, if you have any questions, comments, or ideas, please email: