Russian Division appoints new leader

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Following the retirement of longtime Russian language professor David Murphy, PhD, the accomplished Elizabeth Blake, PhD has ascended to the position of Coordinator of the Russian Division.

Established in 1968, Te Russian and East European Area Studies Program at Saint Louis University flourishes thanks to dedicated faculty and students from a wide array of backgrounds.

Recent graduates work in several diverse fields ranging from researching the intricate life forms found in Russia’s Lake Baikal to working for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, among other exciting professions. With such success in the department, the program has kept positive favor with the University and remains the only Russian program in the St. Louis region.

With the exception of St. Louis University High School, there are no Russian programs in St. Louis area high schools either. With so few Russian programs in existence, the importance of the field of study is questioned.

Daniel Schlafly, Phd, spoke very highly of Dr. Blake, saying “Tere’s absolutely no other person more qualified for the job of coordinator of the Russian Division than Betsy Blake.”

Dr. Blake, a world-renowned scholar on the famous Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky and the author of Dostoevsky and the Catholic Underground teaches several sections on the Russian language, Russian literature, and Russian Orthodoxy.

During the summer of 2016, she spent several weeks giving lectures on Dostoevsky and touring the various ornate Russian monasteries. When asked about what draws most students into the Russian program, Dr. Blake spoke of the great curiosity many students have about a country so often portrayed in a negative light by western media.

In her opinion, most s t u d e n t s have little to no previous knowledge of the rich culture of history, language and the arts that is, and has been, so vibrant in Russia for centuries.

Dr. Blake went on to say that students should study Russian because, “as the largest country in the world, Russia is a major military and economic power enjoying good trade relations with China, and our Russian majors are well prepared to enter successful graduate programs or to find attractive career opportunities.”

The nation’s culture has accumulated through its history. Dr. Schlafly, a beloved professor of history with a focus on Eastern Europe has been a distinguished member of the Russian division for decades. His classes on Russian and Eastern Europe an history are incredibly popular among students even outside of the Russian & Eastern European Area Studies Program.

With an impressive background in Russian history, Dr. Schlafly has been invited to lecture on the historical importance of the Crimean Peninsula with respect to the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Dr. Schlafly cites the conflict in Crimea as the perfect example of why Russian history is integral to understanding the modern day actions of the Russian state.

Ellen Carnaghan, Ph.D., a political science professor that specializes in Russian politics and who teaches a class on Soviet/Post-Soviet politics, generously offered her input on why it is important to study Russian politics- “Vladimir Putin, who is the president of Russia, is quite unpredictable.”

Furthermore, Dr. Carnaghan went on to say that the conflict in Crimea is especially worrisome because “whatever has led them into Ukraine could very easily lead them into similar countries that border them.” Te capriciousness of Putin’s Russia will likely continue to play a major role in global politics.

Dr. Blake will be joining Eric Carter, a student who studied in St. Petersburg over the summer, in a question-and-answer session at 9 a.m. on Sept. 20, 2016 in the Center for Global Citizenship.

The event will focus on their experiences in St. Petersburg over the summer, and a range of topics will be discussed.