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CREECA Monthly

March 2015
(Dennis Keen on a recent trip to Central Asia. Courtesy photo.)
Q&A With Dennis Keen
Keen, who studied elementary Kazakh at the Central Eurasian Studies Summer Institute (CESSI) in 2012, earned an M.A. in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies from Stanford University and a B.A. in Language Studies and Education from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He now lives in Kazakhstan.

After growing up in California, you have traveled to and lived in several areas of Central Asia—including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia. Can you tell me about what drew you to this region?
As a kid, I was a geography fanatic, and spent a lot of time wondering about all the countries on the map that nobody ever talked about. What was going on in all those ‘-stans,’ I wondered? In high school I started reading about the region just for fun, when I stumbled upon a program that sent kids there on an exchange program. I realized it was an amazing opportunity, and took it. Ever since then, it's just been the inertia from that initial discovery that's kept me going. Read the full story here.

(Dennis Keen on a recent trip to Central Asia. Courtesy photo.)
Teacher Spotlight:
Lou Kindschi,
Russian/American Educators’ Exchange

In her home in Oregon, Wis., Lou Kindschi keeps a memento of a trip she took just over a year ago — a white scarf made of flax. The family heirloom was given to her while she visited a home in the Bryansk region of Russia, five miles from the border with Ukraine.  
Kindschi, a teacher at Oregon High School for the past 14 years, had been in the woman’s home in order to record her retelling traditional Russian folk tales. Before Kindschi left, the woman pressed the scarf into her hands, insisting she take it, telling her they were family now. Full article here.

(Lou Kindschi in Moscow, Russia. Courtesy photo.)
Register Now for CESSI 2015!
Spend the summer learning a central Eurasian language! 
At CESSI—the Central Eurasian Studies Summer Institutestudents complete a full year of college language instruction in an eight-week summer session.

Registration is open until April 24, 2015. The application form and details about tuition, financial aid, and housing are found here.

This year, intensive courses in beginning and intermediate Kazakh, Tajik, Uyghur, and Uzbek will be offered. With sufficient enrollment, other Central Eurasian Turkic languages could be taught. Please contact Nancy Heingartner (, CESSI program coordinator, if you are interested in a language not listed above.
Community Updates
Dr. Rachel F. Brenner (Jewish Studies) was awarded the Hilldale Award in the Arts and Humanities for 2014-2015. Her new book, The Ethics of Witnessing: The Holocaust in Polish Writers’ Diaries from Warsaw, 1939-1945 is out from Northwestern University Press.

Dr. Funda Derin (Languages and Cultures of Asia) is teaching Sixth Semester Turkish and Azeri, a course that includes CIC CourseShare students participating from the University of Minnesota.

Honorary Fellow 
Dr. Heather S. Sonntag visited the University of Wyoming in February to give a guest lecture and public lecture. Her guest lecture focused on methods of using photography as primary source documents for historical analysis. The public lecture, titled  "Imag(in)ing Nomadic Horizons: Early Photographic Projects of the Steppe and Plains Peoples," explored an exhibition Sonntag was commissioned to curate for the U.S. Consulate in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 2013 on the early photography of traditionally nomadic peoples of the Kazakh Steppe and Great Plains.

Dr. Gerald Mikkelson (Russian '59, MA Slavic '63, Russian Studies certificate and PhD minor '65,  PhD Slavic '71), after 48 years at Kansas University, will retire as Emeritus Professor on his birthday May 16, 2015. In fall 2014 he began a second teaching career at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute with "Origins of Russian Civilization: 872-1682" for 60 senior citizens. A sequel "Russian Civilization, II: Peter I to Pushkin" will follow in 2015 or 2016. His latest publication is "Стихотворения Юрия Живаго в английском переводе> in  Пастернаковске чтения: исследования и материалы (М.: Азбуковник, 2015). He is currently working on a conference paper/article "Образ лебедя и лебединые песни в русской поэзии" to be read in Moscow in April 2015 and published at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of World Literature (IRLI). 

Dan Singleton (MA '14) published an article "Why Nagorno-Karabakh Mediation Has Failed," which appears in the Winter 2014 edition of the FAOA Journal of International Affairs.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
4 p.m., 206 Ingraham Hall
Dr. Catherine Schuler is an Associate Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.  She has published two books, Women in Russian Theatre: the Actress in the Silver Age (Routledge 1996), which won the Barnard Hewitt Award from the American Society for Theatre Research, and Theatre and Identity in Imperial Russia (University of Iowa Press, 2009). 

Dr. Schuler’s  presentation considers the whole of Sochi 2014—the city and the Games—as a Wagnerian gesamtkunstwerk, or total work of art.  From the Sochi Bid Book through material renovation of Greater Sochi to the spectacular Opening and Closing Ceremonies, this enormous, myth-making enterprise aimed to immerse spectators in sensuous visual and aural experience in order to persuade them of the Russian resurrection. 
Mason's talk
Thursday, March 26, 2015
4 p.m., 206 Ingraham Hall
Jessica Mason is completing her Ph.D. in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she has also lectured in the Department of Gender and Women's Studies. She has a M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and B.A. from DePauw University. Her interests include gender and LGBTQ studies, social movements, and whatever might be indicated by the term "post-socialism." 

Drawing on ethnographic research conducted with young radical left, feminist, and LGBT activists in Moscow, this presentation explores how marginalized activists negotiated this inhospitable landscape through a combination of schismogenic conflicts and solidarity-building coalition work. 
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