Latest Posts

Latest Posts

Teaching American Literature in Minsk (in English!)

Teaching American Literature in Minsk (in English!)

I don’t just travel to amazing places here in Belarus! I also teach and otherwise engage with the academic community here. Note: This report was demanded — I mean, requested — by my dean. I aim to please! Where do I teach? While I am visiting other places during the Fulbright, most of my teaching/presenting takes place in Minsk. My primary assignment is teaching at Belarusian State University. The dean of the combined faculties of philology, Ivan Semenovich Rovdo, is an affable older gentleman who knows some English and was happy that I spoke slowly enough and without a strong accent so that it was easy for him to understand me. He was impressed (or horrified!) that I am accompanied here … Continued
ENGINE, ENGINE, NUMBER NINE, GOING DOWN MINSK METRO LINE…

ENGINE, ENGINE, NUMBER NINE, GOING DOWN MINSK METRO LINE…

Disclaimer: In my last blog, I said I would talk about teaching in my next blog post. I started with that intent, but as you can see, I got (shall we say) sidetracked! ONE. Starting Point: Uruchcha (my home) Belarusian State University is located in the heart of downtown Minsk. On teaching days, I walk out to our sidewalk to be whisked into the center of the city by the blue Metro line. The subway system is quite dependable here but can be quite full depending on the time of day. Then I check my messages while trying not to crowd the space too much. If I sit on a crowded day, I risk being trapped away from the door … Continued
An Excursion to Novogrudok

An Excursion to Novogrudok

Living and traveling in Belarus means a history lesson a day, history lessons that show me how much my western eyes have missed about this space between western Europe and Asia. Here are the Baltic peoples, the Slavic peoples, and the (actual) Caucasian peoples. Mixed into this region – or perhaps extending to their “home regions” – are eastern Scandinavians/Vikings to the North and Turks to the south. Historically, Belarus is populated primarily by the Slavs. On Saturday I had the pleasure of visiting Novogrudok, one of the oldest towns in Belarus. This town of 49,000 people was once a capital city – the first capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania before the capital was moved to Vilna (now Vilnius) … Continued
Tidbits of Belarusian Language and Literature

Tidbits of Belarusian Language and Literature

I walk down to the metro but not to board a train. I’m going down to the cafe where I know they have great pastries. My wife and all four children are with me, and my wife has already figured out who speaks some English at this place. She knows how to order what we want, and I am happy to let her do it. After pointing and talking mostly in English with the kids and the woman behind the counter who knows some English, Beth prepares to pay and wait for the food. I’m carrying our youngest, little Jo, strapped onto me, and I move to the edge of the shop to keep from crowding the counter area. “Kids, … Continued
Ilya of Murom: A Legend of the Kievan Rus (draft!)

Ilya of Murom: A Legend of the Kievan Rus (draft!)

The Three Brogatyrs (Warrior-Knights) by Vikotr Vasnetsov, 1898   [In order: Dobrynya Nikitich, Ilya Muramets, Alyosha Popovich] This week I bring you the rough draft of a narrative poem I wrote upon discovering a children’s illustrated version (in English) of a folk tale/legend of the Eastern Slavs and Russians. I picked up this book at the Pushkin Library here in Minsk — a place we will visit frequently in days to come! I compared the children’s story with some older versions of this folk tale/legend that I could find online and cobbled together my own version. For any of my Belarusian friends and colleagues, feel free to message me with suggestions for revision, particularly if there are important cultural elements … Continued