Nada Petković

Nada Petković
Instructional Professor
Foster 415
Office Hours: By Appointment
Teaching at UChicago since 2000
Research Interests: Languages and cultures of the Former Yugoslavia, Second language acquisition, Cultural Anthropology, Urban Studies

"Petković’s primary area of interests are the languages and literatures of the Former Yugoslavia, cultural anthropology of the region, and urban studies with a particular interest in recent state and city branding."


A native of Belgrade, Petković joined the University of Chicago as a Fulbright scholar in the late eighties and prefers to refer to herself as Yugoslav. Her background is in comparative literature and theory of literature at the University of Belgrade, and general and Slavic linguistics at the University of Chicago. Her teaching and research focus on languages and cultures of the Former Yugoslavia, second-language acquisition, cultural anthropology, and urban studies. She has taught and lectured on many topics concerning the rich history of the region and its diverse cultures and traditions, with a particular interest in recent state and city branding. Her projects include the book Balkan EpicSong, History, Modernity, co-authored with Philip V. Bohlman, a textbook/reader, Po naški through Fiction: A Structural Reader of Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian Prose, ‘Idemo dalje’: Intermediate B/C/S teaching materials, and other work on language pedagogy and grammar. Her background in comparative literature inspires her love for literary translation and her translation projects. She is the recipient of numerous grants and honors, including Fulbright and Mellon Foundations, Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning, and the University of Chicago.

  • Petkovic, Nada. “Phantom of the National Theater” translation of the short story by Aleksandar Gatalica in M. Ivanovic, ed. 2020 Belgrade Noir. Brooklyn, NY: Akashic Books.
  • Petkovic, N. “'Po naški' through Fiction: A Structured Reader of Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian Prose.” (manuscript under review for publication)
  • Online database “Aspectual Pairs of Croatian and Serbian Verbs.” 2008.

Previously Taught Courses

  • Spaces of Hope: The City and Its Immigrants (Chicago quarter 2019)
  • (Re)branding the Balkan City: Belgrade, Sarajevo, Zagreb (one-quarter course)
  • Special Topics in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (one-quarter course)
  • Advanced Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian: Language through Fiction (one-quarter course)
  • Advanced Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian: Language through Film (one-quarter course)
  • Advanced Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian: Language through Art and Architecture (one-quarter course)
  • Second-Year Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (three-quarter sequence course)
  • First-Year Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (three-quarter sequence course)

Current Courses

BCSN 10103 First-Year Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian I

This three-quarter sequence course in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian languages introduces students to the basics of four basic skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing. It maintains a good balance of the three languages, their respective grammatical and lexical differences, and the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. Students are encouraged to concentrate on the language and culture of their interest and choice. The course objective is to build a solid foundation in the grammatical patterns of the spoken and written languages, while simultaneously working on basic interpretive, interpersonal, presentational and intercultural communication. This is achieved through a communicative situation-based approach, dialogues and texts and, reinforced by the students and instructor, screenings of short announcements, commercials, documentaries, interviews, and the like. Once a week, one-on-one 15-minute conversation sessions with the instructor offer students the opportunity to review and practice the materials presented in class. The course is supplemented with cultural events, guest speakers and selected media. Together with the conversation sessions, these supplements improve the students’ ability to interact effectively and appropriately with people from other linguistic and cultural backgrounds— essential for establishing successful, positive relationships across cultural boundaries.

2020-2021 Autumn

BCSN 20103 Second-Year Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian I

The Second-Year Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian languages and cultures course is designed for both students who have completed the first- year sequence and heritage learners. Its main objective is to develop further communicative skills—interpretive, interpersonal, presentational and intercultural—using authentic materials representing the contemporary spoken and written language in authentic cultural contexts. Students are presented with a series of texts, such as newspaper articles, interviews with writers, actors, athletes, short biographies, book and film reviews, university websites, travel blogs, etc. Audiovisual materials, representing both high and popular culture, constitute an integral part of every unit. Grammar and vocabulary are reinforced and developed throughout the quarter. Textual and audiovisual materials are selected to best exemplify the outlined themes while maintaining a good balance of the three languages and their respective grammatical and lexical differences in order to assess students’ progress in all four skills. Each of the 12 units is accompanied with a unit test, all of which, including the final exam at the end of the term, mirror the tasks in the practical proficiency assessment test that students can take at the end of the spring quarter. The course is complemented with cultural and historical media from the Balkans, guest speakers and cultural events. The prerequisite is BCSN 10303 or the equivalent.

BCSN 10303 or consent of instructor

2020-2021 Autumn

BCSN 21101 /31104 Advanced Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian: Language through Fiction

(REES 21101 / REES 31104)

This one quarter course is designed to help students over one of the most difficult hurdles in language training—the transition from working through lessons in a textbook to reading unedited literary texts. The selected pieces of fiction and the exercises drawn from them engage the language’s structure on every page. Immersed in a complete language experience, students learn how to engage the natural, organic language of literary texts across a variety of styles and themes enabling them to work with ever more challenging material. The course objective is to hone students’ abilities to analyze increasingly complex unrevised texts, identify various styles and registers of the language, and handle linguistically unfamiliar situations in both spoken and written format. Attention is given to improving students’ abilities to paraphrase, narrate, describe, support opinions, hypothesize and discuss abstract topics. Building vocabulary is stressed as a key to making progress, while issues of language structure and grammar are reinforced throughout the course. Classes are conducted in the target language and may be taken for pass/fail. The prerequisite is two years of formal study of the target language or the equivalent.

2020-2021 Autumn