Macalester students and faculty have organized the annual Russian, Eastern European, and Central Asian Studies Conference conference each spring since 1992. Events include a nationally recognized speaker, a term paper competition in which students compete for cash prizes, and an evening gala event.

Student Research Competition 2020: Virtual Edition

In 2020, we held a virtual version of the Russian Studies Student Research Competition. Mac students along with fellow scholars from nine other colleges and universities presented and discussed their work in real time on three panels: Literature, Interdisciplinary Studies, and History. We are very grateful that we were able to host this celebration of knowledge, and we learned so much from our presenters! 

Bea Green, Macalester College: “An Evaluation of Historical Interpretations of Russian Byliny”
Anna Kasradze, Duke University: “Polyphonic Prozac? Aesthetics of Anti-Psychiatry in Chekhov’s ‘Black Monk’”
Faith Milon, Macalester College: “The Interplay of Poses in Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin
Grace Riegel, Macalester College: “Divinity Prevails: Margarita as a Christ Figure”

Interdisciplinary Studies:
Aaron Backs, Macalester College: “A Science-Fiction Utopia: Russian Cosmism and Art of the Post-Revolutionary Russian Avant-Garde”
Charlie Bonham, Macalester College: “Soviet Architecture in the 1950s and 1960s”
Charles Connon, Indiana University: “The Political Economy of Recent Wildfires in Siberia: The Intersection of Human Economic Activity, the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI), and the Rapidly Expanding Environmental Degradation in Russia’s Boreal Forests”
Mallie Kermiet, Macalester College: “The Perennial Question of Monumental Propaganda: Post-Socialist Remembering and Re-imagining”
Linda Parranto, University of Minnesota-Duluth: “Radiant Paths for Soviet Women in Films and the Tension between Femininity and Emancipation”
Jake Pflueghoeft, University of Wisconsin-Madison: “The Red Hubris and Art’s Eternal Power to Critique, Realized through Shakespeare”

Wilson Battle, Carleton College: “Gorbachev’s Noose”
Ian Bell, Carleton College: “(Post)-Soviet Champagne in Russia and the Evolution of Nostalgia”
Eleanor Grinnell, Macalester College: “Alaska and California: Russia’s New Frontier in the 18th and 19th Centuries”
Muling He, Carnegie Mellon University: “Khrushchev’s USSR through the Eyes of the Chinese State”
Artur Kalandarov, Bowdoin College: “The Soviets and Americans in Afghanistan: A Clausewitzian Framework for Comparative Conflict Analysis”
Casey Smith, Wheaton College: “The Last Days of the Emir: Bukharan Reform Movements under Russian Influence”

2019 student projects

Maria Donahoe – Enemies and Brothers: Nationalist Language in Russian Official Discourse
Ana Gvozdic – Limitation to Elite Power: The Bosnian Croat Nationalist Movement
Rebecca O’Kerns – Cross-bred, Overfed, Dead: Repercussions of Pasture and Sheep Collectivization in Soviet Kyrgyzstan
Kasia Majewski – Memories Into Stone: Constructing and Demolishing Monuments in Twentieth Century Czechoslovakia
Dan Szetela – Reaching the Reader’s Shores: Aitmatov’s Chinggis Khan’s White Cloud in Translation
Alexa Ryer (Grinnell College) – When it Comes to Climate Change, Is Russia Winning?
Emma Verges – The Remarkable Role of a De Facto Republic: Abkhazia After the Fall of the Soviet Union
Anna Russert – Go West, Young Doctors: How European Union Freedom of Movement Affects Romania’s Professionals and Citizens
Marlee Yost-Wolff – Artists Breaking the Ice in the Balkans

Past speakers

In 2019, Professor Ann Komaromi (University of Toronto) presented a talk titled “Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into the Future: On Kabakov’s Characters and the Detritus of Soviet Life“, in which she explored Kabakov’s reaction against Malevich’s avant-garde utopian vision and analyzed his re-imagination of the Gogolian “little person” located amidst the rubbish of Soviet everyday life.

In 2018, our conference featured two sports-related talks in honor of the 2018 World Cup that took place for the first time in Russia! Mac alum Chris Pascone ’01 presented on “Using Russian to Make a Career in Professional Soccer“; and Tim Harte, Professor of Russian literature at Bryn Mawr College, gave a talk titled “Higher and Faster: Athletics, Art, and Ideology in Russia and the Soviet Union” about the significance of sports for the arts and literary culture in Russia.

In 2017, Brian Johnson, Professor of Russian literature at Swarthmore College and Mac alum, gave a talk titled “What I did (and do) with my Russian Degree from Macalester”, in which he discussed his research and how studying Russian at Macalester shaped his career. This year’s conference was concluded with an outing to the Museum of Russian Art, accompanied by Brian and other Russian faculty members.

In 2016, Kevin Rothrock, editor @RuNetEcho and co-manager @RuNetMemes, gave a talk titled “Trolling to Success: How Provoking and Offending People Came to Define Russian Political Discourse, and Why That’s Fine” and Emily Baran ’03, Assistant Professor of History at Middle Tennessee State University, spoke on “Soviet Power and Christian Dissent.”

In 2015, Eliot Borenstein, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at NYU, discussed “The Talking Dead: Articulating the ‘Zombified’ Subject Under Putin” and Krista Goff ‘04, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Miami, gave a talk titled “The ‘Separatist’ Among Us: Researching Soviet Minority Politics in the Post-Soviet Caucasus.”

In 2014, artist Yevgenii Fiks gave a talk introducing his exhibit “Impossible Histories, Impossible Sites” at Macalester’s Law Warschaw Gallery; and Cassandra Hartblay ’06, PhD Candidate in Anthropology, UNC-Chapel Hill, spoke about “#SochiProblems: Rehabilitating Russia from the Perpetual ‘FAIL Blog’ Role.”

In 2013, economist Rick Erickson presented on Russia’s transition to capitalism, and diplomat Tom Hansen discussed the relationship between Russia and the U. S. In 2012, Professor Marc Robinson of St. Olaf College introduced and led a post-screening discussion of the new documentary film, Putin’s Kiss, about the sinister side of the Nashi youth movement in contemporary Russia. In 2011, Rachel May, Coordinator of Sustainability Education at Syracuse University, spoke about what environmental scientists and literary scholars can learn from one another. In 2010, postmodernist performer Psoy Korolenko accompanied the 1927 silent film Bed and Sofa with a live soundtrack combining piano and rhymed scholarly discourse.

Paper contest guidelines

For information, please contact