Serendipity led Tim Langen, Associate Professor of Russian, to his research field. A language requirement in college caught him at a crossroads; pondering the possibilities, he decided that “French, German, and Spanish seemed too familiar, and Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic maybe seemed too foreign. Russian seemed just distant enough and just close enough.” He soon discovered that he enjoyed studying the language and so decided to major in Russian history and literature, a combination that allowed him to connect two fields he cared about.
A language requirement in college caught Langen at a crossroads where he decided to give Russian a try. He soon discovered that he enjoyed studying the language and decided to major in Russian history and literature, a combination that allowed him to make connections between a scholarly field and other things he cared about.
Langen highlights three major reasons to study Russian literature and humanities more deeply than for simple enjoyment.
Langen describes the rewards of two collaborative projects: Eight Twentieth-Century Russian Plays (2000) is an anthology of Russian plays that he translated and edited with Justin Weir. He also worked with his brother, Jesse Langen, examining how the music by Russian composer Dmitry Shostakovich drew upon the poems of Alexander Blok.
Langen’s most recent project, The Stony Dance: Unity and Gesture in Andrey Bely’s Petersburg (2005.
Langen is gearing up for his next research project that will focus on late nineteenth-century Russian intellectual history. “These people thought of literary studies as something you could do scientifically,” Langen explains, and he plans to begin by exploring “the rules for responsible, scholarly discourse.”
Teaching a general course on Russian civilization has helped Langen’s research process by allowing him to connect literary studies to other aspects of Russian life.
Being part of a small but thriving Russian Program, within the Department of German and Russian Studies, is an enriching experience that allows professors and students a great deal of one-on-one contact.