Judith Kalb, Class of 1987


1. Why did you choose Russian culture as your major?
I chose to study Russian because of the amazing qualities of Russian literature, first and foremost, and because of my incredible professors. Russian literature made me ask questions, think critically, and seek out exposure to differing viewpoints. My professors provided examples of scholarly and pedagogical excellence that continue to inspire me to this day.
2. What is your most vivid memory of your college years?
One memory that has stayed with me is the way I could simply wander into a professor's office to discuss life, often without an appointment; I felt that my education mattered, and that I mattered--and that welcoming and affirming attitude is something I try to impart to my own students now.
3. Which literary work (or any work of art) would you recommend to a newcomer who is interested in Russia, as one of the keys to Russian culture?
Anyone who knew me in college or graduate school will know that I will always recommend the modernist masterpiece Petersburg, by Andrei Bely, subject of my undergraduate thesis! 🙂
4.Which career path did you choose, and why?
I went to graduate school at Stanford, where I did a joint Ph.D. program in Slavic Languages and Literatures and Humanities. I am currently a professor of Russian and Comparative Literature at the University of South Carolina.

5.What are you currently working on?
My research focuses on the interactions between Russian culture and the Greco-Roman classical tradition; my current project deals with Russia's reception of Homer.
6. Are there any other comments that you'd like to add?
I am grateful always to have the opportunity to introduce my students to the incredible world of Russian literature and the larger European literary tradition of which it forms a part--and to encourage them to draw connections between the literature we read and what matters to them in their own lives.