The Outstanding Achievement Award recognizes the accomplishments of established leaders in the field of Slavic, East European and Eurasian women’s and gender studies. Their contributions have broken new ground in the discipline and laid the groundwork for others.
The Outstanding Achievement Award recognizes the work of a scholar in the field of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies who has also served as a mentor to female students/colleagues in this field. To submit a nomination, please write a letter to AWSS President, Dr. Sara Dickinson, detailing what your candidate for this award has achieved in Slavic Studies in terms of scholarship or other professional accomplishment, as well as mentoring of female students/colleagues. In addition, please provide a short list of references with accompanying email addresses so that the committee can contact these referees directly for further information. The committee recommends that this list include both peers and students/staff. A list of past Outstanding Achievement Award recipients is below.
Deadline: Nominations (including self-nominations) will be accepted until September 1, 2023.
AWSS 2023 Outstanding Achievement Award: Dr. Catherine Wanner
The AWSS Outstanding Achievement Award is given in recognition of exceptional scholarly accomplishments and academic leadership in the field of Slavic, East European and Eurasian women’s and gender studies. It commends those who have become established figures in the field both through scholarly work that has laid the groundwork for others and through the mentoring of female students and colleagues. As such, it is an award that is central to the very definition of the Association for Women in Slavic Studies and its mission. AWSS is delighted to present its 2023 Outstanding Achievement Award to Dr. Catherine Wanner, professor of History, Anthropology, and Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University and currently Jacyk Distinguished Fellow (2023-2024) at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute.
After receiving her PhD in cultural anthropology from Columbia University in 1996, Dr. Wanner went on to publish what today stands at three monographs, four edited and co-edited volumes, and well-over 50 scholarly articles. She is, to quote the nomination letter submitted by Hilde Hoogenboom, Associate Professor of Russian at Arizona State University, “an internationally recognized anthropologist and pioneer in her field”: “Since Wanner first embarked on her distinguished career three decades ago, both anthropology and the critical study of religion are no longer nascent disciplines in Ukraine.” Indeed, Catherine Wanner “has helped to create a vibrant new intellectual community in Ukraine, and to make Ukraine itself a major focus of study in the social sciences and the humanities internationally.” Post-Soviet cultural anthropology, the critical study of religion, and the study of Ukraine are three fields that Catherine Wanner has enriched through her scholarship, her indefatigable construction of networks, and her dedicated mentoring.
Catherine Wanner’s wide-ranging research has been supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council and the National Council for Eastern European and Eurasian Research. In 2016-17 she was a visiting professor at the Institute of European Ethnology of Humboldt University in Berlin and in 2019-20 she was a Fulbright Scholar at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine.
Oksana Kis, Senior Scholar at the Institute of Ethnology, National Academy of Science of Ukraine, characterizes Wanner as “one of those few courageous and open-minded Western scholars who dared to explore the tumultuous post-Soviet world directly.” Her research, says Kis, “always addresses the most topical issues”, whether “women’s strategies of coping with poverty or the challenges of (re)constructing national identity in post-soviet Ukraine in the 1990s, or the role of faith during the Revolution of Dignity and the military hostilities on Donbas, or the manifestations and meaning of sorrow, care and empathy in the context of traumatic experiences suffered during Russia’s war against Ukraine.” Her work “confronts painful and complicated issues”, confirms Michele Rivkin-Fish, Associate Professor of Anthropology at UNC-Chapel Hill, adducing as examples “the revival of religious and nationalist sentiment after state socialism, the violence of the Maidan and war in Eastern Ukraine, the ruptures between Russian and Ukrainian families.” Dr. Wanner’s writing is “richly textured, theoretically sophisticated, and deeply innovative,” she adds, it “both reveals and grapples with human suffering and the efforts to heal from these conflicts, both witnesses and analyzes, with subtlety and nuance.”
Catherine Wanner’s first book, Burden of Dreams: History and Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine (1998) “set the standard for the newly emerging field of the anthropology of Ukraine – and Eastern Europe in general,” in the view of Sarah D. Phillips, Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University, quickly becoming a “must-read for all social scientists studying the region”, even a “fieldwork Bible.” Recently translated into Ukrainian, the book is short-listed for the 2023 Sophia Book of the Year in the category of Non-Fiction Philosophy, Anthropology, and Psychology.
Dr. Wanner’s next two monographs, “explore how and why religion has become such a crucial force in Ukrainian public life and geopolitics,” writes Heather Coleman, Professor of History at the University of Alberta: like her first book, they, too, “grow out of the insights of ‘slow ethnography’ – years and years of time spent talking to people, developing relationships, and observing Ukrainian social and public life.” The book Ukrainians and Global Evangelism (2007) has been dubbed by Bruce Grant, Professor of Anthropology at NYU, a “tour de force for critical thinking on religion in society” and it won four prizes, including the AWSS Heldt Prize. Meanwhile, her volume on Everyday Religiosity and the Politics of Belonging in Ukraine (2022) is still collecting accolades, among them the Omeljan Pritsak Book Prize in Ukrainian Studies and an Honorable Mention for the AWSS Heldt Prize awarded for the best book introducing Innovative and Underrepresented Perspectives in Slavic Studies.
War in Ukraine has been a theme in Dr. Wanner’s work for a decade now and is the subject of three collections of articles on the Maidan protests, a forthcoming edited volume entitled Dispossession: Imperial Legacies and the Russo-Ukrainian War, and special issues of the journals Ethnologia Polona and Material Religion. Since the invasion, she has been a leader in promoting what she calls the “militant middle ground” – a position of “open and non-judgmental engagement” with persons of different views.
Dr. Wanner’s networking activities began in the early 1990s, when together with fellow graduate students Bruce Grant and Nancy Ries, she organized a workshop and with it the “Soyuz Research Network for Post-Communist Cultural Studies” to help graduate students navigate the rapidly changing fields of anthropology and sociology in the Soviet and post-Soviet context; this workshop has since become an annual event and Soyuz now has over 500 members. Insofar as Soyuz was designed to be – as Bruce Grant put it – “flexible and maximally inclusive,” it resembles numerous other networks that Dr. Wanner has gone on to build over the course of her career, an activity that Grant speaks of as “institution building.”
A case in point is the “Working Group on Lived Religion in Eastern Europe and Eurasia” (formerly known as the “Working Group on Religion in the Black Sea Region”), “a long-term project that aims to enhance the critical study of religion as a discipline of anthropology and the use of qualitative research methods” (Kis). Over that last ten years, Dr. Wanner has secured over $800,000 in funding for the Working Group, which supports doctoral students and postdocs, as well as established scholars from Eurasia and Eastern Europe, bringing them together at international and interdisciplinary events, including regular conferences, online seminars, workshops for junior scholars, graduate student summer schools, also supporting seven Ukrainian scholars per year. Here as elsewhere, Heather Coleman writes, “Wanner has created a wonderful, inclusive intellectual community, fostering very high-level discussions in a supportive atmosphere.” The results of this “international scholarly conversation” are often publications, such as her “groundbreaking collected volume”, State Secularism and Lived Religion in Soviet Russia and Ukraine (2012), that included several chapters by Ukrainian colleagues, here given an opportunity to publish in English, or her “volume in Ukrainian co-edited with a young Ukrainian scholar and making available new work on the anthropology of religion in Ukraine, Russia, and the Caucasus” (Coleman).
In short, Catherine Wanner has demonstrated an enduring and powerful “commitment to building community, strengthening the field, and supporting colleagues”, in the words of Rivkin-Fish. And, as Hoogenboom points out, has been “a central node in keeping the Ukrainian academic community connected to the world community of scholars, including Russians.” In fact, while much of her work has focused on Ukraine, her networks are international and her mentorship extends broadly to scholars from the former Soviet Union, including Petersburg, Tbilisi, and Buriatiya, whom she helps with grant proposals, workshops, and English-language publishing. Dr. Wanner’s remarkable successes are aided by her fluency in Ukrainian, Russian, German, and French, and for her talents in mentoring.
As a generous and energetic mentor, Catherine Wanner is nothing short of revered. Oksana Kis credits Dr. Wanner with “possessing the rare talent of mentoring without patronizing, thus facilitating the professional growth of her mentees and guiding and supporting a number of young scholars to become her full-fledged colleagues and collaborators.” “She is deeply empathic and an excellent listener,” explains Rivkin-Fish, and “she recognizes the multiple complexities and challenges involved in successfully navigating academia, particularly as a woman and a mother.” Sarah Phillips praises her “absolute lack of scholarly ‘territoriality’,” stating that “My career has benefitted at every level from Cathy’s interest in my work,” that “She has offered me meticulous feedback for the last 23 years,” and that she “has been a pivotal influence for several of my own PhD students.”
Indeed, Dr. Wanner is well-known for mentoring across generations, reaching not only students and young career scholars, but also her peers and even her seniors. Tetiana Kalenychenko, National Pedagogical Dragomanov University (Kyiv) and coordinator of the Working Group, recalls Dr. Wanner guiding “older scholars to recognize the value of qualitative methods,” for example. Her work has also been particularly important for women scholars, creating the “pathways for significant numbers of East European and Eurasian women to develop academic careers” (Rivkin-Fish) and helping to “restructure the previously male-dominated world of Ukrainian Studies (and Russian Studies) into something entirely more gender-inclusive” (Grant).
As Hoogenboom notes, “through both her scholarship and mentorship, Catherine Wanner has advised and supported the first cohort of post-Soviet anthropologists, sociologists, and religious studies scholars from the U.S., Europe, and the former Soviet Union.” A “leader for what is now an entire generation of younger scholars in the anthropology of the former Soviet Union,” writes Bruce Grant, she “genuinely cuts across the disciplines, demonstrating a global edge in her intuitive reach.”
Much more was written than can be included here about Dr. Wanner’s formidable achievements. Backed by these impressive testimonials, it gives AWSS great pleasure to confer the 2023 Outstanding Achievement Award on Dr. Catherine Wanner, wonderfully described by Coleman, as “a gifted scholar, a valued mentor, and an engaged colleague.”
AWSS 2022 Outstanding Achievement Award
The Association for Women in Slavic Studies is pleased to announce that the recipient of its 2022 Outstanding Achievement Award is Joanna Regulska, Vice Provost and Dean, Global Affairs and Professor, Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, University of California, Davis and Professor Emerita, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and Department of Geography, Rutgers University
Joanna Regulska earned her PhD in Geography at University of Colorado, Boulder in 1982 and has a master’s degree from the University of Warsaw, Poland as well as a Doctor Honoris Causa from Tbilisi State University in Georgia (2011). Dr. Katalin Fábián, Professor, Department of Government and Law, Lafayette College, details Joanna’s outstanding achievements in her nomination letter:
Trained as a social geographer, Joanna brought a new spatial perspective to the emerging study of women’s social movements in Central Europe. Maintaining the focus on an extensive knowledge of Polish women’s activism, she expanded her research agenda to include local and national levels of democratization in the broader Central and Eastern European region. Building on this expertise and having served as the Principal Investigator in various large-scale research projects supported by the National Science Foundation and the US State Department, among others, she added Ukraine, China, and the Caucasus, especially Georgia to her contexts of comparisons.
The analytical frameworks that Joanna has most profoundly contributed to include the ricocheting spatial influences that affect the persistently controversial local, national, and international processes of democratization and European Union accession. With various collaborators, Joanna has analyzed a wide variety of specific policy frameworks such as migration and gender inequalities in labor markets.
She is the author or co-author of eight books, and she published over 100 articles, chapters, and reviews. She has continued to publish extensively and at a very high level of scholarship while serving in very demanding administrative functions in the past decades at various flagship research universities.
While Joanna’s continuing pursuit of research and scholarly publications powerfully informed her extensive administrative positions, she has [also] regularly organized and taught women’s and gender studies courses inside and outside of her home institutions, including summer schools in Croatia, Georgia, and Poland.
Joanna has most successfully and vigorously integrated the highest level of scholarship, teaching, mentoring, and global outreach in the fields of women’s and gender studies. After decades of teaching and serving in various high-level administrative positions at Rutgers University, she has continued as a Vice Provost and Dean of Global Affairs at University of California-Davis. Joanna’s writings, and the many students she has mentored have profoundly impacted the field of Central and Eastern European studies. Joanna’s service to women’s and gender studies has been exceptional throughout four decades. She has offered the highest quality service to Women’s and Gender Studies both as a researcher, as a teacher, mentor, and high-ranked university administrator. She searched out funding and built extensive international and US-based institutional networks to study the many complex effects of democratization on women and gender.
A commitment to diversity, social justice, and the empowerment of women led Regulska to establish graduate degree programs in gender studies at the Central European University in Hungary and Tbilisi State University in Georgia in addition to her research, teaching, service, and administrative responsibilities at Rutgers University and the University of California at Davis. Her global advocacy for scholars working on gender, sexuality, and women’s studies, and mentoring of scholars across continents, seas, and oceans makes her especially deserving of the AWSS Outstanding Achievement Award.
The AWSS Outstanding Achievement Award recognizes not only scholarship in the field, but also “the mentoring of female and LGBTQ students/colleagues.” Regulska’s leadership has transformed the scholarly landscape of the post-communist space as she has mentored countless students in her peripatetic academic career. Dr. Mindy Jane Roseman, Director of International Law Programs and Director of the Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women’s Rights at Yale University writes that “Without exaggeration, she has been the most formative mentor and adviser in my life. Her mentorship lives on in me, as I’m sure it does in all of her students and colleagues. Joanna nurtures ideas, builds institutions, and supports the people who hatch and inhabit them.” Dr. Hande Eslen-Ziya, Professor of Sociology and of Media and Social Sciences, University of Stavanger, Norway, agrees and writes that “Prof. Regulska’s guidance and both her intellectual and her mentoring style has made me the academic I am today.”
Roseman, the associate director of the then nascent Gender Studies Department at Central European University in 1996, witnessed Joanna up close during that department’s founding. Roseman explains, The Program was met with scepticism, if not outright hostility. The region in the main, and some of CEU’s administrators and founders in particular, equated “gender studies” with the kind of state socialist imposition of women’s associations. Joanna paved the way to change this mind set.
Joanna’s program building moved further east as she helped to establish a graduate-level Master’s program in Gender Studies at Tbilisi State University. Dr. Medea Badashvili, Associate Professor, the Head of Master Program in Gender Studies there explains Joanna’s impact in shaping a program that has “...reflected an interdisciplinary approach to the study of gender in social sciences and humanities.” In short, “Joanna Regulska has made a huge difference at our faculty, university, exemplified the mission of the university, and has positively impacted the academia and students of our university.”
Dr. Joanna Mizielińska, Associate Professor, Collegium Civitas details a long association with Joanna that began when she was a MA student in the gender studies programme at Central European University in Budapest. She underlines Joanna’s career-long mentorship and her leadership in the project “Constructing Supranational Political Spaces: The European Union, Eastern Enlargement and Women’s Agency.” Mizielińska admires Regulska’s “talent in leading a very demanding international project and attracting many well-known scholars from the region to be part of it and her ability to work very hard and show patience towards her collaborators [is] inspiring. Her expertise as a leader and focus on women’s agency in the processes of democratization is worth emphasizing.”
Even as an academic administrator, Joanna continues to encourage, mentor, and train students. Zofia Włodarczyk, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in Sociology, at University of California, Davis reflects on Joanna’s impact on her as an early career scholar. Wlodarczyk writes, “despite my initial lack of confidence, she encouraged me to co-author a chapter of the Routledge Handbook of Gender in Central-Eastern Europe and Eurasia with her. This process not only was a great learning opportunity for me and resulted in my first academic publication in English, but also made me feel much more competent and confident in my abilities as a scholar.”
Dr. Joanna Regulska’s career exemplifies what the AWSS’s Outstanding Achievement Award is designed to recognize: the work of a scholar in the field of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies who has also served as a mentor to students and colleagues in this field. Indeed, as the nomination letter states, “In addition to her many achievements, Joanna may have been most successful in training and continuing to support generations of researchers dedicated to the study of gender in Central and Eastern Europe and the post-communist world.” Her scholarship, her program building, and her mentorship have had and will continue to have a ripple effect across the field and the multiple disciplines in which her scholarship and advocacy have played roles. AWSS is honored to add her to its distinguished list of Outstanding Achievement Award recipients.
The Association for Women in Slavic Studies is pleased to announce that the recipient of its 2021 Outstanding Achievement Award is Dr. Eve Levin, Professor Emerita, Department of History, University of Kansas.
The Association for Women in Slavic Studies is pleased to announce that the recipient of its 2021 Outstanding Achievement Award is Eve Levin.
Eve Levin earned her PhD at Indiana University in 1983, with the completion of her dissertation, “The Role and Status of Women in Medieval Novgorod (Russia).” In this study Levin challenged the scholarly consensus of women in medieval Russia as “downtrodden creatures” and argued instead for their significant economic and political status. With the completion of her dissertation and a subsequent co-authored essay (with Natalia Pushkareva) on women’s property rights in medieval Novgorod, Levin began her decade sof research and writing in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian women’s and gender studies. Levin began her career at The Ohio State University and left in 2003 when she accepted a position at The University of Kansas.
Moving beyond her dissertation work, Levin published her pioneering monograph Sex and Society in the World of the Orthodox Slavs, 900–1700 in 1989 (Cornell University Press). This well-received study examined sexual practices and beliefs among Orthodox Slavs in medieval and early modern Russia, Bulgaria, and Serbia. It remains the definitive work on the subject, establishing Levin as a path-breaking scholar whose work challenged long-standing, pre-revolutionary writings depicting pagan Slavic society as one that glorified women and female sensuality.
Throughout her career, Levin has published foundational articles and book chapters examining gender, sexuality, folk beliefs, saints’ cults, and spiritual healing in the medieval and early modern periods. Her exemplary 2004 scholarly monograph in Russian Dvoeverie i narodnaia religiia v istorii Rossii on dual faith and popular religion derived from this earlier work. Her current project explores the early modern practices of Russian folk and faith healers, and she broadens the analysis to include Western doctors in Russia? and the regulations that Muscovite religious and governmental institutions imposed upon them. The significance of her research has been recognized by major granting agencies from the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), the Fulbright-Hays program of the Department of Education, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research.
What makes Levin especially deserving of the AWSS Outstanding Achievement Award is her belief in the power of intellectual exchange, communication, and overcoming cultural and linguistic barriers. Her remarkable translation of Pushkareva’s Women in Russian History (M.E. Sharpe, 1997) won the 1997 AWSS Heldt Prize for best translation in Slavic women’s studies. She dedicated much of her time and energy to the editorship of The Russian Review. Starting as associate editor in 1988, she became editor in 1996 and remained its intellectual guide until her retirement in 2020.
Under her editorship, Levin has helped transform The Russian Review into a flagship journal in our field and has championed the publishing of articles in women’s and gender studies, as well as reviews of overlooked Russian language books by women. Dr. Christine D. Worobec Distinguished Research Professor Emerita, Department of History, Northern Illinois University, summarizes 30 years of Levin’s stewardship of Russian Review,
Eve is an unsung hero in our field. She has been extremely judicious and supportive in her written comments to authors. She has developed a superb list of readers who write helpful criticisms for young authors. In the event that a reader's comments are unfair, Eve finds a diplomatic and compassionate way to deal with the author. Under Eve's tutelage, Russian Review regularly publishes articles in Russian women's and gender studies, has featured authors who identify as women and others, putting them on par with men, and promotes the work of junior as well as senior scholars.
The AWSS Outstanding Achievement Award also recognizes “the mentoring of female and LGBTQ students/colleagues.” In this regard and as attested to by her colleagues and students, Levin has had remarkable success and sees mentoring “as a lifelong relationship.” Alana Holland, Scholar-in-Residence, American University, who spearheaded Levin’s nomination, writes,
I continue to be humbled and astounded by Eve’s mentorship. Eve holds high standards, but she gives her students the tools to meet them. . .. Eve’s undergraduates regularly go on to graduate programs and her graduate students have carried on her legacy in their own careers as university professors and managing editors of important journals in the field, such as Communist and Post-Communist Studies and Nationalities Papers. Eve also supports her students who pursue careers outside academia where they nevertheless continue to advance Slavic studies in her light.
Another former student, Dr. Gwyn Bourlakov, noted that Levin “cultivates joy [also] in students who are not pursuing graduate study and those who had only a passing flirtation with Russian history, which turned into a deep respect of her and the field she continues to inspire.” Danielle J. Price, Managing Editor, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, highlights how being one of Levin’s editorial assistants at Russian Review, was a lesson in mentorship and generosity necessary to do excellent editorial work. Mary Schaeffer Conroy, Emeritus Professor, Russian/Soviet History, University of Colorado, Denver also speaks of Levin’s magnanimous support and promotion of the scholarship by Russian women historian which often gets overlooked. Finally, Sandra Levy, University of Chicago Associate Slavic Librarian (retired) observes that Levin focuses not only on a students’ individual, intellectual development but is “dedicated to attending to the whole person. She is a shining example of the best practices demonstrated to all.”
A kind, generous, and path-breaking scholar, Levin is “a shining example” of scholar, editor, teacher, mentor, and friend. AWSS is honoured to add Dr. Eve Levin to its distinguished list of Outstanding Achievement Award recipients.
The Association for Women in Slavic Studies is pleased to announce that the recipient of its 2020 Outstanding Achievement Award is Esther Kingston-Mann, Professor Emerita, University of Massachusetts-Boston.
After earning her PhD at Johns Hopkins University, in 1969 Kingston-Mann joined the History Department at University of Massachusetts at Boston, where produced path-breaking scholarship, worked tirelessly to make her institution a more diverse and inclusive place, and inspired successive generations of students.
Kingston-Mann’s foundational body of scholarship is empirically driven, meticulously researched, and elegantly written. She has been in the vanguard of research on Russian rural life, with particular attention to gender, family and economy. Her work bring the methods of social and economic history into dialogue with anthropology, philosophy, political theory and literature to offer readers a panoramic view of the peasantry. Kingston-Mann has authored three monographs and edited one book on Russian history. Lenin and the Problems of Marxist Peasant Revolution, 1893-1917 (Oxford University Press 1983) turned a sympathetic eye to the plight of the Russian peasant, emphasizing the possibilities that Lenin saw in the peasant commune. Her edited book (with Timothy Mixter), Peasant Economy, Culture, and Politics in European Russia, 1800-1921 (Princeton University Press 1991) offers a seminal chapter by her that one colleague in Russian peasant studies said he “turns first to … for inspiration and to set [himself] on the right path” every time he sits down to start a new project. Her second monography, In Search of the True West: Culture, Economics, and Problems of Russian Rural Development (Princeton University Press 1999) offers a sweeping reconstruction of ideas from the 19th through the end of the 20th centuries. Her most recent book, Women, Land Rights and Rural Development (Routledge 2017) demonstrates a scholar at the height of her interpretive prowess. This book offers a comparative study of rural women’s economic history in 17th century England, 20th century Russia/USSR, and 20th century Kenya. Moving beyond policies dictated by men, Kingston-Mann traces the role of women in rural development in these very different times and places, finding the kind of similarities that validate her comparative methodology.
Impressive as her track record is in Russian peasant studies, some of her Slavic Studies colleagues may not be aware that she has simultaneously made an extraordinary contribution to scholarship on diversity and inclusion in higher education. In addition to writing numerous articles and book chapters, Kingston-Mann has edited three books on this topic: A Diversity Research Initiative: How Diverse Undergraduate Students Become Researchers, Change Agents, and Members of a Research Community (Ford Foundation/UMB 1999); Achieving against the Odds: How Academics Become Teachers of Diversity Students (with Tim Sieber, Temple University Press 2005) and Transforming Classroom Culture: Inclusive Pedagogical Practice (with Arlene Dallalfar and Tim Sieber, Palgrave 2011).
These publications on diversity and inclusivity grew out of work begun in the classrooms of UMB, but which expanded to encompass several significant administrative roles and research projects. Kingston-Mann’s commitment to diversity and inclusion was evident early on in her creation of UMB’s first ever modern world history class, which challenged a Eurocentric curriculum. She later authored the university’s first sexual harassment guidelines. In the early 1990s she chaired a two-year-long student, faculty, and staff Diversity Working Group, which led to the establishment of a university-wide diversity curriculum requirement. From 1991 to 2000, Kingston-Mann served as director of the Center for Improvement of Teaching (CIT), securing a $750,000 Ford Foundation grant to fund and sustain the Center’s faculty seminars on diversity and inclusion. She led a Ford Foundation-funded, UMB-based Diversity Research Initiative (1998-99) to foster research skills among undergraduate students. From 2003 to 2005 she served as a principle investigator on a Ford Foundation-supported effort to create the New England Center for Inclusive Teaching, Scholarship and Curriculum Change (NECIT). Supporting faculty seminars based on UMB’s CIT model, the consortium drew together seven New England colleges and universities. Also in 2003, Kingston-Mann received a Ford Foundation grant to create a student-scholars award program. Since 2005, this program has been known as the Kingston-Mann Awards for Student Excellence in Diversity/Inclusion Scholarship and embraces undergraduate students in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.
This illustrious resume speaks to a profound concern with forging a fair and welcoming environment for students who, for a range of reasons, felt that the university classroom was not a place where they were welcome or belonged. A testimonial from one of Kingston-Mann’s students, now an Associate Professor of US history, illustrates how a pedagogy of empathy animated Kingston-Mann as a teacher and mentor. Thirty-five years after sitting in Kingston-Mann’s classroom, she writes that “the biggest impact she had was in her ability to see an individual (shy) student among the crowd.” Inviting this student, far from home and a bit adrift, to a holiday dinner at her house, Kingston-Mann’s kindness demonstrated, in this former student’s words, “dedication to teaching, not just to convey information, but as a holistic vocation meant to shape and improve lives.”
Though a kind, generous teacher, Kingston-Mann was not one to shy away from a fight. Some fair, but pointedly worded letters to the editor are out there for those inclined to track them down. They combine a rapier wit with precise, evidence-based arguments. No doubt these same qualities—intellect and humour, but also open-heartedness—proved to be the secret ingredients to Kingston-Mann’s efficacy on multiple fronts. Both Slavic Studies and, more broadly, the tertiary sector are better for having had Ester Kingston-Mann in them. It is with gratitude that we recognise her accomplishments with the 2020 Outstanding Achievement Award.
Over more than three decades, Irina Reyfman has been a role model as a dedicated scholar-teacher. After receiving her PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Stanford University, Professor Reyfman joined the faculty of Columbia University in 1986. She has also held visiting appointments at the University of California at Berkeley, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. A specialist in eighteenth-century Russian literature, Reyfman has published four single-authored monographs, two co-edited volumes of essays and, most recently, co-authored a comprehensive history of Russian literature. This body of work, along with an outpouring of support for her nomination from students past and present, speaks to the synergy between her research agenda and her work in the classroom.
If there is one word that comes through loud and clear among those who know her it is care—care for the work, and care for those around her. I hesitate to call them “students”, as she is quick to treat them as something more than that. They are colleagues, fellow travelers into the joys of Russian literature. Her former and current students alike praise her for her genuine interest in their insights and her ability to spread an infectious passion for Gogol, Radishchev, and Trediakovsky. Eschewing shame or competition as motivational tools, Reyfman leans instead on the intrinsic delights of literary discovery to inspire curiosity. As one student wrote, “whenever she asked whether we had read some lesser-known literary work and we said no, she would let out a sigh of happiness, smile, and say, ‘u vas vse vperedi!’ [you have everything ahead of you!].”
Reyfman’s passion is paired with rigor. Apparently, she is known as a “velvet fist in an iron glove,” a description that captures with affection and humor the fact that she is a demanding, but fair advisor. She is “direct and assertive, but never harsh.” She turns around drafts with a speed that makes one’s head spin—sometimes within a mere day—and does so while providing detailed feedback on the ideas and the writing. Reyfman has supervised fifteen dissertation and been a second reader on many more; the research of these students span the eighteenth through twenty-first centuries. Budding scholars seek out her service on their committee because they know she brings an encyclopedic knowledge of Russian literature and a keen eye from which their work will benefit.
Her generosity toward students extends well beyond the classroom. Reyfman was an early and important supporter of the relaunch of the Columbia graduate student journal, Ulbandus: The Slavic Review of Columbia University. She led a semester-long exploration of Radishchev’s Journey from Moscow to St. Petersburg with students who met weekly, voluntarily, just out of sheer love for and curiosity about the text. On another occasion, unfinished business from a Russian stylistics class one semester continued informally the following semester with a discussion in Reyfman’s home about Pelevin’s “Nika.” A monthly kruzhok in her home brought together students of Slavic literature, history, and comparative literature to present work-in-progress. Those events were marked by their egalitarian ethos, which erased any hierarchy between students and teachers for the sake of a rigorous and stimulating exchange of ideas. These efforts, taken together, show Reyfman to be an unsung architect of intellectual community, above and beyond the call of duty.
When praised for her tireless efforts, with characteristic modesty Reyfman is quick to dismiss this work as “just doing her job.” But anyone would recognize this level of effort and devotion as beyond the bounds of what is typical and thus worthy of recognition. As one of her supporters wrote, Reyfman “sees her work with her students, above all, as her ‘imperishable’ contribution to the field.” For more than thirty years, she has worked toward this distinguished legacy.
Reyfman is, of course, not just an effective, respected, exceptional teacher and mentor. She is also a distinguished literary scholar. Her scholarship across all her publications builds on the tradition of Tartu cultural semiotics so as to preserve that theory’s search for invariants. She balances that structuralist impulse with careful attention to literary history, an awareness of the nuances of individual texts and authorial careers, and a profound study of literary institutions. To touch on just a few highlights of her writings, her first book, Vasilii Trediakovsky: The Fool of the “New” Russian Literature (1991) earned accolades as “inspired,” “pioneering,” and “ambitious,” with significant methodological implications for the study of eighteenth-century literature broadly. Her 2012 Rank and Style: Russians in State Service, Life, and Literature enjoyed similar praise for its blend of historical and literary studies, and heralded by one reviewer as “an impressive testimony to [Reyfman’s] range and conviction that a sympathetic understanding of the social framework underpinning Russian noble culture enriches our appreciation of Russian literature”—a description that could apply equally to her teaching philosophy. Further elaborating on her explorations of literature, literary culture, and professionalization, How Russia Learned to Write: Literature and the Imperial Table of Ranks (2016) received praise for its elegant writing, persuasive argumentation, and nuanced reading of canonical eighteenth and nineteenth century writers. It is no coincidence that a scholar of this profound erudition has co-authored Oxford University Press’s History of Russian Literature (2018), a work that is destined to become a classic in the field, turned to by students and scholars for many years to come.
For these many achievements and more as a teacher, mentor, and scholar, AWSS is pleased to bestow its 2019 Outstanding Achievement Award on Irina Reyfman.
The Association for Women in Slavic Studies is extremely pleased to announce that Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild is the winner of the 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award. One of the founders of our organization and first president, Rochelle has been a critical leader throughout its 30-year history. She is an exemplary scholar, a champion of women’s studies and women’s achievements, as well as a mentor to colleagues and students in the US and abroad. Moreover, her activism in the Boston feminist community and support for feminists around the world has made a significant impact. The selection committee makes this decision based not only on Dr. Ruthchild’s long-standing service and scholarship but on the testimonials of multiple other senior colleagues, who often stated their astonishment that Rochelle had not received this honor already. In this 30th anniversary year of AWSS, we are therefore correcting this oversight and acknowledging the numerous contributions Dr. Ruthchild has made to our field, to our profession, and to feminist communities all over the world.
Many, many senior scholars and AWSS past presidents wrote in support of Rochelle’s nomination, speaking to her integral role in AWSS, her record of excellent scholarship, and her mentoring of students and colleagues, among other achievements. For one thing, without Rochelle, AWSS simply might not exist, at least not in its current incarnation. As one nominator wrote, “we think of AWSS as an organization that still functions because of the combined work of many people. While that is true, I also know as a member and past-president of AWSS that the very existence of AWSS from a logistical, financial perspective, is entirely due to the diligence of Rochelle Ruthchild since the founding of AWSS in 1988.” Especially in her long-term role as Clerk (and now Investment Officer), she has spent countless hours working on behalf of the organization, especially in such unglamorous but critical aspects as maintaining its 501-c-3 status. Rochelle’s deep knowledge of AWSS history, finances, and governance has made it possible for AWSS to not only survive but thrive over the years. Another past president writes: “For Rochelle, the purpose was not merely to keep AWSS viable, but most important of all, to support and strengthen research and scholarship in women’s and gender studies.” Thus there was always a larger purpose to the sometimes tedious work of filling out the paperwork and monitoring the budget.
Equally important is Rochelle’s role in the founding of AWSS. As one supporter wrote: “Having defended a dissertation on “The Russian Women’s Movement, 1859-1917” in 1976 at a time when few in the Slavic field were engaged in research, writing, and teaching on Slavic women’s history and literature, Rochelle was instrumental in creating the first network of scholars pursuing an interest in Russian women’s history. A roundtable on “Retrieving Russian Women” at the 1986 AAASS convention in which Rochelle participated attracted an audience of at least 30 people. When many of those in attendance expressed a desire to keep in touch and exchange ideas, it was decided to form a Women’s Studies Caucus that would meet at the annual AAASS convention. People wishing to join the group were asked to contact Rochelle. This initiative was followed by the founding of AWSS at the AAASS convention in Boston in 1987; Rochelle, as a founding member, was its president from 1988 to 1990, and has been a member and clerk of the AWSS Board of Directors from 1990 to the present [currently under the honorary title of Investment Officer]. At one time or another, she has participated in just about all AWSS’s programs and committees and has been a longtime staunch advocate for advancing the status of women in the Slavic profession, especially encouraging and mentoring younger scholars.”
Rochelle has produced some of the most important work on Russian feminists, has influenced scholars and students around the world, and is widely considered to be the world’s leading authority on the topic. That work first appeared in countless seminal articles and book chapters. Her award-winning book, Equality and Revolution: Women’s Rights in the Russian Empire, 1905-1917 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010), is a landmark in women’s studies, challenging Soviet (and other left-wing) dismissals of feminism as inherently bourgeois with her close analysis of a successful class-diverse women’s movement emerging in early twentieth-century Russia. (If only Aleksandra Kollontai could have read Rochelle’s monograph....) Rochelle has continued her trenchant revision of implicitly misogynist Soviet “women’s history” with her individual and comparative studies of such political figures as Anna Filosofova, Nadezhda Stasova, and Maria Trubnikova; her survey of feminist publications and publishers in prerevolutionary Saint Petersburg; and her analysis of feminist dissidents’ activism in the late Brezhnev period. Dr. Ruthchild’s scholarly corpus is extraordinary in its intelligent revisionist zeal. Her productivity is also remarkable in light of the fact that she never benefited from the perks of a tenure-track position, with regular sabbaticals and financial support for field research and conference attendance.
Rochelle has also been the major book reviewer in Russian women’s and gender studies in the prestigious Women’s Review of Books and is an editor of Aspasia, the first journal dedicated to Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian women’s and gender studies. In 2008 Rochelle was the plenary speaker at the conference in St. Petersburg celebrating the centenary of the First All-Women’s conference and since that time has served in that function many a time, including at the AWSS Conference in Alexandria in 2017.
Given her positions at Norwich University and Union Institute and University, where she spent most of her career between 1981 and 2007, she did not train her own graduate students in the field of Russian women’s history. Rather, she mentored generations of scholars in the U.S. and Russia with generosity and patience, without collecting much (or any) institutional visibility. Because Rochelle is someone interested in results and not titles. She simply wants to share her passion and her insights with anyone and everyone who will have them. One recommender was at the 2008 St. Petersburg conference and “witnessed firsthand the adoration and respect that our Russian colleagues have for Rochelle. It is clear that she had reached out to all of them as a mentor, giving them advice about how to navigate the challenges of introducing their work to academics in the West and encouraging them to present their work at AAASS, now ASEEES. In addition, Rochelle spearheaded a campaign within AWSS to raise money to help some of our Russian and Ukrainian colleagues to come to ASEEES and to travel within Russia itself to attend scholarly conferences.” Such commitment to the education and professional development of scholars, combined with her patience and generosity, is a rare find in our professional world.
More recently, Rochelle’s service has extended into new areas. She co-coordinates a working group on gender, socialism and post-socialism at Harvard’s Davis Center and continues to work in various capacities (grantwriter, fundraiser, producer) on the 888 Women’s History Project, which financed the excellent documentary, Left on Pearl: Women Take Over 888 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, and publicizes the history of feminist activists in 1970s Cambridge.