Michael Wachtel receives Behrman Award for the Humanities

Written by
Slavic Department
May 1, 2016

Michael Wachtel, professor of Slavic languages and Literatures and department chair since 2011, has been on the Princeton faculty since 1990. He is also affiliated with the Department of Comparative Literature.

Wachtel is an authority on Russian poetry from the 18th century to the present. His books include "A Commentary to Pushkin's Lyric Poetry, 1826-1836"; "The Cambridge Introduction to Russian Poetry"; The Development of Russian Verse: Meter and Its Meanings"; and "Russian Symbolism and Literary Tradition: Goethe, Novalis and the Poetics of Vyacheslav Ivanov." His scholarship has garnered awards from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages.    

Wachtel has received grants and fellowships from the National Institute for the Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has pursued research in Russia, Germany and Italy, and in 2012 was an Ellen Maria Gorrissen Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin for the fall semester. From 1987-88, he was a Fulbright fellow in Konstanz, Germany. 

Beyond the expertise in his field, Wachtel is esteemed for his deep engagement in the humanities at Princeton. Commented a colleague: ". . . he is a constant presence among the humanists on campus, communicating an appreciation and love for his subject to undergraduates, graduate students and his colleagues. In short, both as a scholar and a citizen of Princeton University, he embodies the highest ideals of the humanists."

One of the ways Wachtel directs this attention is by teaching in the double-credit Humanities Sequence for undergraduates. Noted one colleague: ". . . intensive, interdisciplinary, team-taught courses like the 'HUM Sequence' function best with contributions such as Michael's. After all, the course asks professors and students alike to build on their established areas of expertise, but also to venture beyond those fiefdoms."