About Us

At the recent annual convention of the American Association for Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages, three of our alumni received prizes for their recent work.

Polina Barskova (now Associate Professor at Hampshire) received the AATSEEL prize for the Best Literary Translation into English for her edited collection Written in the Dark: Five Poets in the Siege of Leningrad, which contains poems by Gennady Gor, Dmitry Maksimov, Sergey Rudakov, Vladimir Sterligov and Pavel Zaltsman, as translated by Anand Dibble, Ben Felker-Quinn, Ainsley Morse, Eugene Ostashevsky, Rebekah Smith, Charles Swank, Jason Wagner and Matvei Yankelevich. The book is a wonderful companion to her Besieged Leningrad: Aesthetic Responses to Urban Disaster, which appeared late last year.

Molly Brunson (now Associate Professor at Yale) received the award for Best Book in Literary and Cultural Studies for her Russian Realisms: Literature and Painting, 1840-1890.

William J. Comer (now Professor at Portland State University) received the award for the Best Contribution to Language Pedagogy for his much-acclaimed web-based text book Между нами (coauthored with Lynn DeBenedette, Alla Smyslova, and Jonathan Perkins).


We study and teach the languages, literatures, and cultures of the Russian and other Slavic peoples and their immediate neighbors in East and Central Europe (Hungary and Romania) as well as the Caucasus and Central Asia (hence the terms “Eurasia” and “Eurasian”). Over the centuries, these peoples shared linguistic, literary, cultural and historical experiences, which both united and divided them. These experiences include their intermediary position between the “West” and the “East,” participation in large multi-national states and empires, membership in the Soviet bloc in the twentieth century, and, in recent decades, the transition to post-socialism. In a word, we represent peoples who have influenced the history of a large part of the world.

Our department, which celebrated its one hundredth anniversary in 2001, was one of the first departments of its kind in the United States. It was home to UC Berkeley’s only Nobel Prize winner in the Humanities, Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004). Over the years, it has remained in the vanguard of Slavic, East European and Eurasian studies because of the breadth of coverage and interdisciplinary approach to the field. Our faculty members have a wide range of interests and train students to discover the links between language, literature and other aspects of culture (including history, religious thought, visual arts, theater, film, popular culture) as well as between our subject matter and that of other related disciplines. Thus, students find that our courses complement their studies in other fields as different as History, English, Political Science, or Business.


Announcing the Griffin Sean Madden Scholarship Fund, which will provide endowed scholarship support for undergraduate students enrolled in the Departments of Philosophy and Slavic Languages and Literatures. It will also support the student house staff program at Cal Performances, where Griffin was a devoted and beloved staff member for five years. For details and to support the fund, click here.


The Slavic Department is located on Level F (6th floor) of the office wing (north wing) of Dwinelle Hall.  When visiting, it is best to enter from the north side of the building near the flag pole, and to stay in the office wing, where rooms and offices are numbered in the 1000s.  (Avoid the classroom wing, where rooms are numbered in the 100s.)  To find Dwinelle Hall, use the map linked at top right of this page.