Language Tables Resume Winter Quarter

Christopher Pike, graduate student working on his dissertation, is leading a Russian Language Table for students of all levels, on alternate Thursdays at 5pm in the foyer just outside Kresge 3305.  All students welcome!  Come enjoy food and conversation with fellow students.  Upcoming dates are March 1, 15, 22 and 29.  For more information, contact: Professor Elisabeth Elliott

Thank you, Irwin Weil!

We thank Professor Emeritus Irwin Weil for his recent generous gift to the Irwin Weil Fund for Russian and Slavic Studies, which he established in 2000.  The new name of the Fund will be The Irwin and Vivian M. Weil Fund, which supports a wide range of activities designed to enhance undergraduate and graduate education in Slavic at Northwestern. 

We are pleased to announce a new grant, the Irwin and Vivian M. Weil Travel and Language Study Grant for undergraduate and graduate studies.  To apply for this grant, students should submit a budget to the department, along with proof of acceptance into a language study program.  Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Professor Weil is a founder of the American Council of Teachers of Russian.  He earned his PhD at Harvard, where he taught before coming to teach at Northwestern University in 1966.  By then, he had already been travelling and working in the USSR for six years, laying a foundation for his future work in USA-USSR/Russia relations. He participated in many Soviet, later Russian, projects to bring public attention to Russian culture and its relations with American culture, including a TV competition in knowledge of world literature, between Soviet and American high school students.  In 2004, with his Russian counterpart, Professor Marina Kaul, Weil established an American Studies Center at the Russian State University for the Humanities, which he continues to visit, meeting with colleagues and students.  Professor Weil also studied Russian music in the context of Russian culture, and for many years taught a unique course in the Slavic Department—Folklore, Music, Poetry—with Dr. Natalia Lyashenko of the Northwestern University Music School. 

Weil's book, From the Cincinnati Reds to the Moscow Reds: The Memoirs of Irwin Weil, earned a positive review in Russian via the Independent Newspaper, written by Vladimir Kataev.  The book was published in English in May 2015.

Congratulations to Saul Morson on Recent Awards

Professor Saul Morson recently won the Kohl Education Prize jointly with NU President Morty Schapiro.  Also he won the Sidney Award for Best Long-Form Essays of 2017 for his article, "Solzhenitsyn's Cathedrals."

In the NY Times (12.25.17), David Brooks writes:  Gary Saul Morson’s essay “Solzhenitsyn’s Cathedrals” in The New Criterion takes us back to one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. Morson shows how spiritually ambitious Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was. “Once you give up survival at any price, ‘then imprisonment begins to transform your former character in astonishing ways,’” Morson writes, quoting Solzhenitsyn. It teaches friendship. You learn the most valuable thing is “the development of the soul.” And so Solzhenitsyn concluded, “Bless you, prison, for having been in my life.”

Congratulations to Clare Cavanagh on New Translations

Slavic Department Chair Clare Cavanagh received praise for her translation of Slight Exaggeration by Adam Zagajewski.  The book was reviewed  in The New York Times on July 19, 2017.  Zagajewski's book was first published in Polish in 2011.

In the review, Daisy Fried quotes Zagajewski: “A good definition of poetry … a slight exaggeration, until we make ourselves at home in it. Then it becomes the truth. But when we leave it again — since permanent residence is impossible  — it becomes once more a slight exaggeration.”  Fried notes that readers of the poems will recognize Zagajewski's preoccupation with Lvov, "a city lost to his parents and their friends after Poland ceded it to the Soviet Ukraine after WWII."  Slight Exaggeration was also featured in the Briefly Noted section of the June 5 and 12 issues of The New Yorker.

Professor Cavanagh's other new book of translated Polish poems is Magnetic Point: Selected Poems, 1968-2014. Poetry by Ryszard Krynicki.  Born in 1943 in a Nazi labor camp in Austria, Krynicki is one of the greatest poets of postwar Poland.

SAVE THE DATE:  May 14, 2018

Join us on Monday, May 14 at 4pm for a panel discussion with Ian Kelly, U.S. Ambassador to Georgia and David Bakradze, Ambassador to the U.S. from Georgia.  This event will be in Harris Hall and the focus will be Russian interference in other countries.  Comments will be provided via video from U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar.  Cosponsored by the Department of Political Science (the Barry Farrell Annual Lecture), and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.

Nina Gourianova Co-organized Spring Symposium at Amherst

Professor Nina Gourianova co-organized an international symposium at Amherst College with Professor Catherine Ciepiella, celebrating the work of avant-garde writer and artist Elena Guro (1877-1913).  The event, hosted by the Amherst Center for Russian Culture April 21-22, 2017, featured an art exhibition curated by Professor Gourianova, titled "Songs of the City: Elena Guro and Artists of her Times."  The exhibit featured Guro's drawings, as well as works from the Mead’s Russian art collection by figures including such as Kazimir Malevich and Natalya Goncharova.  Elena Guro was the first in a group of women who became leading artists of the avant-garde in the pre-revolutionary period.  In addition to her art, Guro also wrote experimental stories, poems and plays, making her unique among those contributing to the European avant-garde.

Congratulations to Jessica Castellanos on her Adventures in Kazakhstan

Jessica in KZSlavic major Jessica Castellanos won a Boren Scholarship to study abroad this past 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 had explored the possibility of staying in Astana to help as a translator for Expo 2017, an international conference focusing on renewable energy: 

Jessica is back at Northwestern now, resuming her studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures, Religious Studies and International Studies. 

Welcome back, Jessica!

Congratulations, Spring 2017 Graduates!

Congratulations to these outstanding 2017 graduates: Alex Kohanski (double major in Slavic and Theatre); Daniel Polotsky (double major in Slavic and Economics); Basia Gawin (Slavic minor with a major in Enviromental Sciences) and Drake Thomas (Russian and East European Studies minor with a double major in International Studies and Political Science)! We look forward to news from these and other alums in 2018.

Congratulations to Tony Topoleski on his article published in Literary Matters

Slavic graduate student Tony Topoleski has an article published in the most recent issue of Literary Matters.  Topoleski discusses Dog Star Notations and other poems by Håkan Sandell, one of Sweden’s preeminent poets.

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!

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 2017 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!

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: