By Eileen Kunkler
Annual Slovene Research Initiative Lecture
Each year, the Slovene Research Initiative (SRI) hosts a lecture that explores an important issue or topic related to Slovenia or the larger Balkan region. This year, SRI was pleased to host Dr. Michael Biggins from the University of Washington as part of the 2018 Midwest Slavic Conference. Biggins delivered the Luncheon Lecture on Saturday, March 24, "Canons Continually Recast: Claiming Space for the Genus of Europe's Borderlands." The starting point for the lecture was a recently published listing of the 500 "must read" works of world literature. Approaching the list as both a professor of Slavic languages and literatures and an area studies librarian, Biggins initially found the idea of such a list intriguing and interesting: What literature might have made it onto the list? What authors and areas might he, as many other western readers, have overlooked? As he explored the list, to his dismay Biggins found that the purported "world literature" list was still heavily focused on the West, with the usual entries you might expect from Russian literature. Very few or no listings from authors from other Balkan, Baltic, or Central and East European coutries were included, despite their artistic merit or influence on more famous authors. To counteract this bias, Biggins stressed the imporance of broadening our conception of world literature and suggested several Slovenian authors that in his estimation, were worthy of inclusion on future iterations of any such list.
SRI ran its fifth Faculty Exchange Competition in the winter of 2017-18. Dr. Matthew Birkhold, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, was selected to participate in the exchange in June. Birkhold intends to use the four weeks of research to continue work on his second book project “Measuring Ice: A Media History of Glaciology.” The project looks at how artists and scientists have expressed ideas about climate change and the changing of glaciers. His work thus far has primarily looked at the Western Alps, but through SRI, he seeks to expand his work to include also the Julian Alps that would allow him to write a more comprehensive history of Central European glaciology.
From the Research Center of the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts, Dr. Aleksej Kalc (Slovene Migration Institute, Research Center of the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts) was selected to participate in the exchange. He will travel to Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, in fall and winter 2018-19 to research Slovene immigrants in Ohio.
As part of the 2017 Exchange, Dr. Theodora Dragostinova traveled to Slovenia in March to present her latest research on Bulgarian cultural diplomacy in the 1970s to colleagues at the Research Centre.