Associate Professor and Undergraduate Chair
PROGRAM DIRECTOR, GLOBAL MEDIEVAL STUDIES
Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles, Slavic Languages and Literatures
M.A. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, (Indo-European) Linguistics
B.A. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Russian and Slavic Studies; Linguistics; Greek Language and Literature
I am a scholar of cultural, religious and intellectual history, early modern and medieval literary and linguistic culture. My publications and research are concerned with the cultural space of eastern, central, and southern medieval and early modern Europe, particularly, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Bohemia, Poland, Croatia, Hungary, and Rus. In research and teaching, I deal with topics that include the history of and approaches to language, writing, and literacy; pre-modern historical writing and historical methods; Slavic (Cyrillic, Glagolitic, and Latin) and Greek paleography and cryptography; projects and theories of universal language; and Russian medieval and modern literature and culture. My undergraduate courses examine medieval literary and historical topics in the context of modern society and reveal their importance in the development of contemporary culture, politics, and social norms. In literature courses I focus on the study of reading strategies of imaginative texts that leads to the advanced understanding of literature as part of cultural history.
My early publications focus on the cultural space of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – a multi-national and multi-cultural state in pre-modern Central Europe – and particularly its Ruthenian lands, which are now within the borders of modern-day Ukraine and Belarus. My first book, Ruthenica Bohemica: Ruthenian Translations from Czech in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Poland (Vienna: Lit-Verlag, 2008), examines the historical circumstances and textual history of the fifteenth-century Ruthenian translations from Czech of The Song of Songs, The Vision of Tundal, The Sibylline Prophecy, and The Book of Tobit. The analysis of these Czech Catholic sources adapted in the Orthodox Ruthenian milieu shows that the cultural and doctrinal divide between the Catholic and Orthodox civilizations in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was not as strict as is often assumed.
Also related to the cultural history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania are a number of articles (published in Drevniaia Rus, Slavia, etc.) and a multi-author book that I co-edited with Vyacheslav V. Ivanov, Speculum Slaviae Orientalis: Muscovy, Ruthenia and Lithuania in the Late Middle Ages (Moscow: Novoe Izdatel’stvo, 2005).
A number of my publications (published in Speculum, Viator, Ricerche slavistiche, etc.) are related to the medieval belief that the Church Father and biblical translator St. Jerome was a Slav and the inventor of the Slavic (Glagolitic) alphabet and Roman Slavonic rite. My book, The Slavic Letters of St. Jerome: The History of the Legend and its Legacy or, How the Translator of the Vulgate Became an Apostle of the Slavs (De Kalb: Northern Illinois University Press, Orthodox Christian Studies Series, 2014) explores the history of this belief and investigates its spread from Dalmatia to Bohemia and Poland. Now largely forgotten, the legend of the Slavic descent of St. Jerome was used by political and religious leaders from Rome to Bohemia and beyond for nearly five hundred years until it was debunked by eighteenth-century scholars as erroneous. I examine the origin and circulation of this belief within the wider context of European historical and theological thought and show that it had an effect far beyond the Slavic world.
I am currently working on a project that deals with the use of etymology in medieval and early modern historical narrative writing. Contrary to a traditional view, which sees medieval etymologies as “false," ideological, constructed, or literary and figurative, I examine etymological method as a historiographic device in the context of contemporaneous theories of rhetoric and the perception of language as an epistemological instrument.
The Slavic Letters of St. Jerome : The History of the Legend and Its Legacy, or, How the Translator of the Vulgate Became an Apostle of the Slavs, Northern Illinois University Press, DeKalb, IL, 2014
Ruthenica Bohemica: Ruthenian Translations from Czech in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Poland, Slavische Sprachgeschichte Bd 3. Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2008
(editor, with Vyacheslav V. Ivanov) Speculum Slaviae Orientalis: Muscovy, Ruthenia and Lithuania in the Late Middle Ages, UCLA Slavic Studies, n.s., IV, Moscow: Novoe Izdatel’stvo, 2005
RUSS095 Universal Language: From the Tower of Babel to Artificial Intelligence (cross-listed COML095, HIST056, ENGL219)
RUSS113 Portraits of Old Russia: Myth, Icon, Chronicle (cross-listed HIST045)