Slava Paperno (director)
Raissa Krivitsky
Viktoria Tsimberov
Richard L. Leed (1929-2011)
Lora Paperno (retired)
Raissa Krivitsky
Office: 213 Klarman Hall
Office hours: see Rooms and times
I moved to the United States from Russia in 1992, and the Gorges Ithaca became my home. From here I look back at the two other places that I once called home, and to which I stay connected through my friends and my work: Odessa, Ukraine, where I grew up, earned my degree in Russian Language and Literature, and researched the rich literary history of the region (famous also for its musical tradition and humor); and Moscow, Russia, where I started my family, held jobs with a museum and in the media, and lived through the struggles and great hopes of the Perestroika. Here I am, caught on videotape by a foreign TV reporter in a small crowd marching across the Red Square and frantically yelling "No to dictatorship!"
As a child I often entertained fantasies about traveling to faraway lands, meeting people from all over the world, and introducing them to my native culture through the medium of English, the language that I began learning in middle school and with which I have always been fascinated. These dreams, however naïve they had been in the circumstances surrounding my childhood, in the end have come true with amazing precision. In Ithaca, I, indeed, have met people from all over the world, especially in the seven years that I taught English as a Second Language, from elementary school to adult classes. Later, I was presented with the most fortunate opportunity to teach my native language and introduce my students to many important aspects of the culture that it represents, first as a high school teacher, and later, in 2003, in the Russian language program at Cornell.
The relationship between language and culture, and the second/foreign language pedagogy are central to my professional interests. Some of my publications in English on these topics can be found in the proceedings of the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages: "From Pushkin to Cheburashka"; "The Russians are talking!", "The Bremenskie Muzykanty Project"; and others, in Russian, in the Materials and Proceedings of the III (please scroll down to p. 569) and IV (please scroll down to p. 604) International Russian Language Congress at Moscow University.
I write poetry and essays, too, most of them in Russian. Yet another language that I am in the process of studying and researching—that of the Argentine Tango—was the subject of my article published in one of the most popular magazines in Russia.
My dance partner and, coincidentally, husband, Nikolai, is a scientist in the field of biomedical engineering. Our children, Pavel and Ludmila (Lucy), both graduated from Cornell, which has given me some perspective on what it’s like to be on the other side of the lectern "high above Cayuga waters." Actually, the word "lectern" is used here only as a figure of speech: all classes in the Russian program are held in a highly participatory roundtable environment.
I often hear from people who know little about Russian: "This language is so difficult! It uses a different alphabet!" This is only partially true. Russian, although it belongs to the same extended family of Indo-European languages as English, may not be particularly easy for an English speaker to learn, but still, the alphabet is never a problem. In fact, you can figure out most of it by yourself just by opening this link and playing the word game that I prepared for you. Even if you think that you didn't get the perfect score in this game, don't get upset. It only takes one week to learn the Russian alphabet in our Beginning Russian through Film course.
The old saying: "The number of languages you know is the number of times you are human" speaks a profound truth to me. Having reached a stage of more or less balanced Russian-English bilingualism, I know firsthand all the joys and rewards that come from being able to express yourself, communicate with others, navigate the media, and otherwise function in more than one language. I do my best to instill this sense of joy and accomplishment in my students even at early stages of their language learning. I am also fully aware of the challenges and frustrations that are often a part of learning a new language. It is a long journey that involves enthusiasm and diligence, risk taking and attention to detail, hard work and lots of fun. I am very happy to be there for those who are willing and ready to embark on this journey.
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Dept. of Comparative literature • Russian Language Program • 240 Goldwin Smith Hall • Cornell University • Ithaca, NY 14853-4701, USA
tel. 607/255-4155 • fax 607/255-8177 • email