Faculty News

Cynthia Buckley (Professor of Sociology) presented at Indiana University’s International Symposium on Sustainable Development: Human Migration on January 20, 2017. She gave the introductory remarks and led the Day-in-Summary Conversation. More information about the symposium can be found at https://kelley.iu.edu/IIB/ProgramsandIntitiatives/CIBER/Media/page51804.html

 

Maria Todorova (Professor of History) was unanimously awarded the title of Honorary Doctor (επίτιμη διδάκτωρ) by the Department of Political Science and History and the Senate of Panteion University in Athens – one of Greece’s elite universities. The award ceremony will take place in June 2017 at Panteion University.

Noontime Scholars Lecture: Karol Kujawa, “Migration Crisis: Implications for Turkish-EU Relations”

On February 14th, REEEC Visiting Scholar Karol Kujawa gave a Noontime Scholars Lecture entitled “Migration Crisis: Implications for Turkish-EU Relations.”  Kujawa is a Kosciuszko Foundation Fellow and Assistant Professor at Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University. His lecture was co-sponsored by the European Union Center.

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Karol Kujawa

For the past several years, the EU has been facing a refugee crisis. Turkey, traditionally a “gateway to Europe,” plays a key role in this migration process.  As a result of the Syrian Civil War, Turkey has become the site of political asylum for over 2.8 million Syrians.  Turkey currently hosts more refugees than any other country on Earth.

According to Kujawa, Turkey decided to host these refugees for several reasons.  First, Turkish authorities initially believed that Bashar al-Assad’s regime would fall—and their “guests” (as the Turkish prime minister called Syrian refugees) would return home—within a year.  Second, the Turkish people were in favor of helping refugees, due to a cultural tradition of “welcoming people from the Ottoman Empire, the Caucasus, Crimea… all of them are refugees, and the society is very cosmopolitan.”  Additionally, “Turkish people really love children,” and over 50% of Syrian refugees in Turkey are minors.

Since the migration crisis began, however, the number of terrorist attacks within Turkey has risen dramatically.  The crisis has led to an increase in “anti-European feelings” among the Turkish people, which is “one of the main purposes of this terrorism” (most of which is perpetrated by ISIS).  Since 2015-2016, popular support for Turkey’s potential accession to the EU has waned, and nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise within the country: “even the seculars are nationalists… there is currently no moderate movement in Turkey.”  On the European side, “we have seen almost the same process”—after an earlier more welcoming attitude toward migrants, “Europeans gradually started changing their minds about the refugees.” This has also coincided with a rise in nationalism throughout Europe.

An “EU-Turkey Statement” was released on March 18, 2016, outlining a new agreement between Turkey and the EU with regard to the migration crisis.  According to this statement, “All new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands… will be returned to Turkey,” but “For every Syrian being returned to Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU.” The EU also agreed to accept more refugees, liberalize the visa process, help improve conditions for refugees on Turkish soil, and to speed up the disbursement of 3 billion euros allocated under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey.  As a result of this agreement, the number of refugees coming to Greece decreased, although according to Kujawa, “that was mainly the result of stopping [migrant] smugglers on Turkish soil.”  Stronger borders have also been established in the Balkans.  However, Kujawa stressed that this is just a temporary solution: Syrian refugees will continue to migrate to Europe, and “there are still too many refugees in Syria, and too many coming to Turkey. To be honest, the only way to stop this problem is to stop the war in Syria.”

Kujawa noted that the EU and Turkey need each other, so they must try to cooperate. The EU needs Turkey’s help to stop the flow of refugees into Europe, and the Turkish economy relies on trade with the EU: over 50% of Turkish exports go to Europe.  However, many member states would oppose Turkey’s accession to the EU, due to human rights issues (“states like Austria and Luxembourg are very sensitive about the question of freedom and human rights, and will oppose integration with Turkey”), increasing levels of xenophobia (“anti-Islamic demonstrations… in Hungary especially”), and the rise of nationalist movements that threaten the integrity of the EU itself (“we don’t even know if the European Union will survive”).

Matthew McWilliams is a REEES M.A. student and a FLAS Fellow for the 2016-2017 academic year for the study of Russian. 

REEEC Faculty Named IPRH Fellows

Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH) at the University of Illinois has awarded its annual Faculty and Graduate Student Fellowships to seven faculty members and seven graduate students for the 2017-2018 academic year, which will center on the theme of “Paradigm Shifts.” IPRH also announced its first class of New Horizons Summer Research Fellows for 2017. New Horizons fellowships support faculty summer research and provide for the hire of an undergraduate research assistant. More information about the fellowships and a complete list of fellows can be found here. Please join REEEC in congratulating faculty members George Gasyna and Jessica Greenberg on their IPRH fellowships!

George Gasyna (Associate Professor, Slavic Languages and Literatures and Comparative and World Literature) was named a 2017-2018 IPRH Faculty Fellow for “A Time for the Province: Palimpsest and Contact in Twentieth-Century Polish Borderland Literature.”

George Gasyna

Jessica Greenberg (Associate Professor of Anthropology) was named a 2017 IPRH New Horizons Summer Faculty Research Fellow for her project will be “Ghosts in the Machine: Rights, Sovereignty and (post) Institutional Crisis in Europe.”

Jessica Greenberg

International Night at Carrie Busey Elementary

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On March 9, 2017, REEEC outreach staff and students participated in International Night at Carrie Busey Elementary in Savoy. It was a lively event with performances, crafts, national costumes, and food from all over the world. Stephanie Chung (REEEC Outreach and Programming Coordinator) and Nicholas Higgins (REEEC MA student) ran the Russia table, which featured the Russian folktale “The Firebird.” The Firebird from the folktale of the same name is usually portrayed as the object of a difficult journey, with many seeking it to no avail. This was of course not the case for the REEEC outreach staff and students, as it was one of the busiest tables! Elementary school students lined up to make firebird masks. After making the masks, many children put them on and wore them for the rest of the evening – trailing orange and red feathers everywhere. Many thanks to Carrie Busey Elementary and the Center for Global Studies for organizing such a terrific event!

New Directions Lecture: Christine Evans, “17 Reasons To Get Along with the Secret Police: Tatyana Lioznova’s ‘Seventeen Moments of Spring’ from the Soviet 1970s to the Putin Era”

David Cooper (Director of REEEC) introducing Christine Evans

On February 23rd, Christine Evans, (Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and a scholar of Soviet culture, mass media, and plays) gave a lecture on the popular 1973 Soviet TV miniseries Seventeen Moments of Spring. Her lecture, entitled “17 Reasons To Get Along with the Secret Police: Tatyana Lioznova’s ‘Seventeen Moments of Spring’ from the Soviet 1970s to the Putin Era,” was a sociological study of the show, and its reflections of Soviet culture and thought. It was a case study of some of the work that Evans had done to argue that the Soviet culture of this time was dynamic and vibrant, even though it was in a kind of stagnation along with the Soviet system in general.

The miniseries follows the fictional narrative of Maxim Isaev, a Soviet spy in Nazi Germany during the final days of World War II operating under the name of Max Otto von Stierlitz. Depicted by Vyacheslav Tikhonov, Stierlitz works to disrupt negotiation efforts between the Nazi and US governments for a separate peace. Evans focused on how the show’s recurring themes spoke to the trends of the 1970s Soviet society under Brezhnev.

One such recurring theme is that of questioning what is seen. Many times on the show, documents profiling Nazi officers and other characters are featured. These documents mention the crimes and horrible actions of the Nazis they name. However, these same Nazis are later portrayed as quite human characters when they are on screen. They are shown drinking, laughing, talking, and engaging like everyday people. The viewer is left questioning how such atrocities could be done by people who seem so human and normal, and a general sense of moral ambiguity prevails throughout the show.

This, Evans argued, resonated with the Soviet Union of the 1970s. Many Soviet people knew that their state had done terrible things; yet, they also knew that the people in their government were still human, and that they had done much good for others. They, too, were morally ambiguous in a way.

In another parallel, German officers and intelligentsia are intensely loyal on the show to the Nazi regime either by suppression or fanaticism, just as Soviet officers and intelligentsia were loyal to the USSR for the same reasons. Stierlitz always does his part to work loyally within his authority structures—his spy networks and his taking orders from other Nazis while undercover—while at the same time, acting independently enough to do what he needs to do. In this way, the show comments on the loyalty that many Soviets felt to their regime and the need they felt to do their part to make it work. Stierlitz’s independence and authority of action, devoid of any considerations beside his tasks, hearkens to the shadow of Stalin that hung over the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

Evans explored many other themes of the show in this way, also discussing the reactions and reviews of film critics in the Soviet Union and the notes of the producers of the show. Her extensive study of Seventeen Moments of Spring was a compelling testament to the values of sociological analysis as a tool for the historian or anyone who wants to further their understanding of Eastern European, Russian, and Eurasian societies and cultures.

Nick Goodell is a sophomore at UIUC, double majoring in History and Philosophy. He also speaks weekly about history on the radio show that he co-hosts, “The People’s History Hour with Grant Neal and Nick Goodell.”

New & Select Fall 2017 Courses – Russia, East Europe, & Eurasia

(note: this list is not a complete list of REEE courses offered in Fall 2017. Visit course explorer and department pages for more classes!)

BCS 115 South Slavic Cultures

TR 12:30-1:50

Judith Pintar

Description:  Exploration of South Slavic cultures in the historically rich and complex region sometimes referred to as “the Balkans,” focusing particularly on those groups found within the successor states of the former Yugoslavia. Critical look at the traditional view of the region as the crossroads or the bridge between East and West, and at the term Balkanization which has become a pejorative term used to characterize fragmented, and self-defeating social systems.

HIST 101 “History Now!”

TR 2:00-3:20

Jessica Greenburg, Mark Steinberg

Description: How people in diverse settings have challenged the way societies treat and value human lives through a century of crises and revolutionary movements.  Beginning with Black Lives Matter, the course will work backward in time toward the culminating exploration of the 1917 Russian revolutions.

HIST 355 Soviet Jewish History

MW 1:00-2:20

Eugene Avrutin

Description: An examination of how Jewish life and culture contributed to the creation of the world’s first socialist society.

HIST 433 Jews in the Diaspora

MW 11:00-12:20

Eugene Avrutin

Description: Drawing on a wide variety of primary and secondary sources – ranging from memoirs and letters to films and novels – we analyze the ways in which Jewish communities refashioned their collective and individual identities.

HIST 439 The Ottoman Empire

TR 9:30-10:50

Maria Todorova

Description: This course introduces the history of one of the great imperial formations of the early modern and modern period, which had long-standing repercussions on the development of Europe, the Near East, and North Africa. It covers the whole span of Ottoman history, and will pay special attention to some of the following problems: the political rise of the Ottoman state since the thirteenth century and how it became an empire, its social and administrative structure, the classical Ottoman economic system, Ottoman impact on the societies, politics, economies and cultures of Byzantium and the medieval Balkan states, the spread of Islam in Europe, the transformations of the Ottoman polity and society, aspects of what has been conventionally named as Ottoman decline, the Eastern question in international relations, the modernizing reforms of the nineteenth century, and the spread of nationalism as a prelude to the final demise of the supranational empire in the twentieth century.

HIST 461 Russia – Peter the Great to the Revolution

TR 2:00-3:20

John Randolph

Description:  Culture, society, and politics in Imperial Russia, focusing on power and resistance, the lives and culture of ordinary Russians, and competing ideas about the state, the individual, community, nation, religion, and morality.

HIST 466 The Balkans (“The Peoples of Southeastern Europe between Empires: The Ottoman, the Russian, and the Habsburg, 1650-1918”)

TR 9:30-10:50

Keith Hitchens

Description:  The political, economic, social, and cultural history of the region between the second half of the 17th century and the end of the First World War as it evolved from medieval to modern institutions and mentalities and exchanged Ottoman Turkish predominance for independent states. We study how the peoples of Southeastern Europe–the Romanians, Bulgarians, Serbs, Croats, Greeks, and Albanians–interacted with neighboring empires (Ottoman, Habsburg, Russian) and were able to preserve their distinct identity in the 17th and 18th century and build ethnic nations in the 19th century. Among the subjects to be investigated are Ottoman institutions and the effects of Ottoman political and economic predominance south of the Danube (the Serbs, Bulgarians, Greeks, and Albanians) and to the south (the Romanian principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia; Transylvania) in the 18th century, the rise of national consciousness and nationalism, the emergence of modern elites (the upper middle class and lay intellectuals), the struggles for independence and the processes of nation building in the 19th century, and the role of empires in all these movements. We have also to examine the ideologies of development (liberalism, conservatism, agrarianism, and socialism), especially the acceptance or rejection of Western Europe as a model. All of this raises fundamental questions: Why did Southeastern Europe follow a course of development different from that of Western Europe? Are we justified in treating the region as distinct from the rest of Europe? If it is distinct, what are the characteristics that define it?

Law 656 International Law

Time: TBA

Francis Boyle

Description: The International Law course examines the variety of roles played by law and lawyer in ordering the relations between states and the nationals of states. The course utilizes a number of specialized contexts as a basis for exploring these roles. The contexts include, among others, the status of international law in domestic courts; the efficacy of judicial review by the International Court of Justice; the effort to subsume international economic relations under the fabric of bilateral and multilateral treaties; and the application — or misapplication — of law to political controversies that entail the threat of actual use of force. The course proceeds through an examination of problems selected to illuminate the operation of law within each of these contexts.

Sequence and Prerequisites: None.

Evaluation: Take home exam.

PS 397 Authoritarian Regimes

TR 3:30-4:50

Stephen Chaudoin

Description: Examines the various aspects of the politics in authoritarian regimes: their emergence and breakdown, the policy choices and institutions typically adopted, leadership change, and the theories that explain them. Historical case studies and statistical data will be used to examine real-world cases.

Prerequisite: PS 240 or PS 241; or six hours of Political Sciences credit; or consent of instructor.

RUSS 461 Russia and the Other

TR 3:30-4:50

Valeria Sobol

Description: Interdisciplinary and comparative topics including, but not limited to: Russia and the West, Russia and the East, the Cold War, and post-Soviet cultural studies.

Prerequisite: Russian course at the 200 or 300 level or consent of instructor.

RUSS 465 Russian-Jewish Culture

TR 2:00-3:20

Harriet Murav

Description: Study of Russian-Jewish cultural, social, and political life through literature and film. No Russian required. No long papers. 3 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours.

SOC 270 Population Issues

MWF 1:00-1:50

Cynthia Buckley

Description: Examines the current world population situation; the historical and current patterns of birth, death, migration, marriage, contraception, and abortion; and the world food and energy resources, crowding, and problems of overpopulation.

Noontime Scholars Lecture: Kirill Maslinsky, “The Trace of the ‘Thaw’ in the Emotional Palette of Soviet Children’s Literature”

Kirill Maslinsky

Kirill Maslinsky, Fulbright Fellow at Illinois Wesleyan University and a Visiting Professor at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, gave the REEEC Noontime Scholars Lecture entitled “The Trace of the ‘Thaw’ in the Emotional Palette of Soviet Children’s Literature” on February 21. He presented an innovative approach to studying literature through machine learning tools and language processing. Maslinsky focused on the “Thaw” under Nikita Khrushchev, which has received renewed attention in Russian cultural studies, and how that period shaped the emotions depicted in Soviet children’s literature.

In the 1950s, two opposing camps formed within children’s literature over the issue of sincerity. The divide was instigated by Vladimir Pomerantsev, who argued in his article “On Sincerity in Literature” (1953) that literature for children should eliminate all real conflict and show no dark sides to life. His view aligned more with Anatoly Aleksin’s short story “Two Presents” (1952), in which a five-year-old child comes to understand what production is and feels joy about it. However, other scholars viewed the “Thaw” as a period of instability and contested ideas that should be depicted in children’s literature. Lidiia Chukovskaya wrote the essay “Rotten Tooth” to voice her doubts about the sincerity of emotions shown in children’s literature. She believed that the emotions portrayed were false. In her essay, she used the metaphor of the rotten tooth to argue that any falsehood was a rotten tooth that should be extracted. Another scholar, Alexander Drozdov, also criticized children’s literature from that time period, noting that characters don’t have their own personality and don’t suffer; they never experience any negative emotions.

Maslinsky’s presentation demonstrated a way to incorporate digital humanities into an analysis of Russian literature. He explored this issue of sincerity by tracing the changes in language for describing emotions that were related to Thaw-era discussions about sincere emotions in children’s literature. He focused on the emotional discourse of the Thaw as sincerity and hypocrisy. To do so, he used a method known as “machine learning”  to mine the emotional language in children’s literature and evaluate the results on graphs. For example, he searched for emotional keywords and filtered out laughing from crying. He split novels into fragments (episodes) and measured the presence of each emotional category in each fragment.

One of the observations that he was able to make from this analysis was that male and female authors addressed emotions differently. For example, during the 1950s, texts written by women represented crying more often than those written by men; more women also wrote about love.

Another method he used was measuring emotional clusters. He presented four distinct clusters that portrayed four different ways of portraying emotions. Examining these clusters of emotions, Maslinsky observed that more female authors wrote about emotions than male authors. He also concluded that works written during the Thaw depicted more social and abstract emotions, which were more realistic.

Although Maslinsky did not explicitly say so in his lecture, his method indicated a shift in the argument regarding sincerity to a gender debate. His repeated observations that more female authors wrote about emotions in their works hinted that there could be a latent cultural bias in the debate. Maslinsky posed questions that could lead his research to become a more comprehensive project that might include translations, reprints, close reading, and a study of readership (older vs. younger children). Whatever new form it takes, it would be a significant contribution to the field, especially in its inclusion of technology as a way to analyze children’s literature.

Stephanie Chung is the Outreach and Programming Coordinator at REEEC and a Ph.D. Candidate in Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests are in Soviet literature and culture, Russian women’s writing, and Czech literature. She received her B.A. in Plan II Honors/Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies in 2007; and her M.A. in Slavic Languages and Literatures in 2009 from the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently writing a dissertation on Soviet women’s memoirs as literary and media texts.