About Us

The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago has a long-standing reputation as one of the major research programs in the field. It is a true Slavic department, with faculty specializing in Balkan, Czech, Polish, and Russian cultural, literary, and linguistic studies. The faculty’s innovative research has been recognized with a number of prestigious grants and awards (from the Guggenheim Foundation, ACLS, NEH, NSF, and Fulbright Commission, etc.). In addition to being members of various academic and professional societies and serving on the editorial boards of internationally renowned journals, members of the core faculty have also received prizes for their outstanding contributions to scholarship, novel interventions into East-European cinema, the Holocaust, 19th-century Russian literature and its giants, Balkan linguistics and endangered languages of Siberia.

The three tracks of specialization—literature, linguistics, interdisciplinary (available on the undergraduate and graduate level)—offer systematic approaches that range from survey courses, one author or one book courses, to advanced seminars on critical theories, practice and theory of vision, 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century cultural production, the Holocaust material legacy, philosophy of architecture, the avant-garde, material and popular culture, image & word interrelationship, and discourse analysis, to name a few. In a concerted effort, our program subjects the above constellation of themes (and more) to intellectual scrutiny by utilizing our faculty’s uniquely combined perspectives in order to cross language, geographic, and political borders of East, Central, and Southern Europe. Faculty also regularly design courses to meet the specific needs and interests of current students.

We pride ourselves, in addition to teaching courses in Russian, Polish, Czech and Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, in offering courses in less commonly taught languages such as Albanian, Bulgarian, Georgian, Armenian, Lak, Bulgarian, Macedonian, and Romani, among others.

Graduate students receive rigorous language training in the major languages of the region (Czech, Polish, Russian, BCS), including advanced 5th-year Polish, 3rd-year Czech and 6th-year Russian taught in highly innovative ways, using popular culture, literature, and film. The pedagogy course prepares graduate students for teaching in the field and the Proseminar (for students in the literature and interdisciplinary track) provides a theoretical and historical introduction to the field along with a practicum in professional development.

Research often begins at the Regenstein Library, which houses one of the major Slavic collections in the country. It is particularly noted for a number of special collections, including rare material acquired by Samuel Harper from the early 20th century. Funding and institutional support for research is provided by the Title-VI funded Center for East European, Russian/Eurasian Studies, a dynamic site for interdepartmental conversation, and the Franke Institute for the Humanities.

Regularly meeting workshops, colloquia and film series provide opportunities for students to interact with affiliated faculty and students across the campus, including those in History (Sheila Fitzpatrick (emerita), Faith Hillis, and Tara Zahra), Cinema and Media Studies (Yuri Tsivian), Art History (Matthew Jackson), Comparative Human Development and Anthropology (Eugene Raikhel), Political Science (Stanislav Markus), Anthropology (Susan Gal), and Comparative Literature and Social Thought (Boris Maslov, Adam Zagajewski and Paul Friedrich (emeritus)). In addition, each year brings new visiting scholars, some under the aegis of the Mellon and Endeavor foundations, who come annually from prestigious Central and East European universities, along with a series of guest lectures and related events.

One of the most exciting interdisciplinary and interdepartmental opportunities at the University of Chicago are graduate and faculty workshops sponsored by the Council for Advanced Study (CAS) graduate workshops. Workshops in the Historical Linguistics (Language Variation and Change), the Anthropology of Europe, Russian Studies, Poetry and Poetics, the Literature of Trauma, and more foster communication among scholars from different fields and methodologies. The CAS also offers the opportunity for graduate students and faculty to design new workshops on a regular basis.

Our graduate students receive generous financial support from the university with additional sources for those interested in pursuing study in Czech and Slovak language and culture from the Procházka Fund for graduate study. Summer study grants are also available through the University and the department, and students often receive support for travel to conferences and colloquia.

Every spring, the Slavic Department organizes the annual graduate student conference known as The Slavic Forum. A student run conference drawing graduate students from all over the world for more than two decades, Slavic Forum is an excellent venue for scholarly exchange and professional development. The conference also awards two esteemed prizes named for faculty members who have made lasting contributions to the department and the field: the Anna Lisa Crone award for best paper on literature and the Daniela Hristova award for best paper in linguistics.

Our department has also developed the East/West Program at the University of Chicago’s Paris Center. The program allows undergraduates to study Slavic and East Central European culture and its interaction with its “Western” counterparts.

The annual Medieval Slavic Workshop brings scholars from across the world to discuss all aspects of Slavic medieval culture. And the Chicago Linguistic Society (CLS), the oldest running linguistics conference in the U.S., provides a wonderful opportunity for students in Slavic linguistics to present their work at a highly visible forum, Chicago is home to a rich tradition in Slavic and East-Central European culture, as witnessed by its recent two-year series of exhibits, performances, films, and lectures. Chicago can boast that it is the largest Polish city outside of Poland and the Czech, Slovak, Slovene, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Lithuanian communities also have long-standing histories in the city and its suburbs.

We are delighted to have placed our graduates into some of the leading research institutions and liberal arts colleges in world. Our recent graduate students have been granted positions at such note-worthy universities and colleges as Reed College, Dickinson College, the University of North Carolina, Columbia University, Indiana University, the United States Naval Academy, The University of Illinois, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Göttingen.