Slavic and East European Journal Awards for 2018

At the 2018 AATSEEL Conference, SEEJ Editorial Board and AATSEEL Executive Council members resolved to recognize outstanding scholars recently published in the journal. For the inaugural awards, the outgoing SEEJ editorial team at UNC Chapel Hill, Irene Masing-Delic and Helen Halva, evaluated each SEEJ article published in 2017 based on the following criteria:

  • Originality and quality of research
  • Novelty brought to a well-researched field
  • Rarely discussed thematics/areas/genres/texts
  • Focus on cultures (within the Slavic and East European realm) that usually do not get enough attention
  • Overall article structure

In order to determine the winners, these evaluations were sent to the members of the SEEJ Editorial Board, who were then asked to rank the articles. These awards, which were announced at AATSEEL 2019 in New Orleans, are as follows:

Best Article by a Graduate Student
Best Article Cluster
Best Article – Honorable Mention
Best Article


“Solving Russian Velars: Palatalization, the Lexicon and Gradient Contrast Utilization.” SEEJ 59.1 (Spring 2015).

Jeff Parker (Brigham Young University)

Palatalized velars in Russian are often considered exceptional because they are neither fully predictable, nor clearly unpredictable. In this impressively researched article, Jeff Parker argues that in Russian, both palatalized and non-palatalized velars occur in a variety of contexts, evidence that they have the potential to distinguish words. Rather than viewing velars as exceptional, he suggests that the lexicon-grammar distinction is gradient, and on the basis of quantitative analysis of corpus data he shows that the Russian velars lie at the end of the relevant continuum. In an already well-researched field, Parker thus reaches innovative conclusions about velar positioning in Russian.

Note: For this award, articles from 2015, 2016, and 2017 were evaluated due to the relatively fewer articles published by graduate students (compared to faculty members).


The Dark and Radiant Bakhtin. Wartime Notes.  SEEJ 61.2 (Summer 2017).

Irina Denischenko (Vanderbilt University)
Alexander Spektor (University of Georgia)
Irina Sandomirskaia (Södertörn University
Caryl Emerson (Princeton Unviersity)

This cluster, in dialogue with previous scholarship, focuses on the lesser-known late Bakhtin. It offers new translations and new facets to our perception of Bakhtin’s legacy. This scholar-philosopher is much more than the one known from his classical studies of Dostoevskii’s poetics and European carnival culture. The outstanding scholarship of all the contributors to the forum is matched by the high quality of the translations made by bilingual scholars Irina Denischenko and Alexander Spektor. This Forum is a unique contribution to Bakhtin studies and it has justifiably already attracted international attention.


“Tolstoy’s Count Vronsky in the Yugoslav Imagination: A Case of Politicized Fan Fiction.” SEEJ 61.4 (Winter 2017).

Tatiana Kuzmic (Harvard University)

Balkan writers are somewhat rarely discussed—at least in comparison with Russian ones—in American Slavistics. This article discusses some Serbian and Croatian reactions to the epilogue of Anna Karenina, in which Vronskii sets off for Serbia to participate in the Russian volunteer effort against the Ottoman Empire after Anna’s suicide. Tatiana Kuzmic provides North American scholarship with a completely new perspective on the Balkan Tolstoi—Count Vronskii goes to the Balkan Wars of our time in the the fiction of Serbian and Croatian writers. Anna Karenina as the point of departure for the fiction of the Serbian and Croatian writers discussed in the article fits the criterion of “a much researched text subjected to completely new treatments” to a high degree. Kuzmic deserves much credit for bringing this unique blend of unhistorical fiction and projection of strong national-political sentiment to our attention.


“Resignifying The Red Poppy: Internationalism and Symbolic Power in the Sino-Soviet Encounter.” SEEJ 61.3 (Fall 2017).

Edward Tyerman (University of California, Berkeley)

Ballet is still rarely discussed in cultural studies, and ballet on Sino-Soviet themes in politically fraught times is discussed very rarely indeed. Edward Tyerman’s article narrates the complex history of Soviet efforts to culturally ally itself to the new Communist nation of China, for example, by presenting Red Poppy to the new leaders at the Bolshoi in 1949; these efforts were frustrated by the Chinese refusal to “resignify” the poppy, which it viewed as a long-standing symbol of imperialism. Combining Chinese and early Soviet cultural history, Tyerman provides thorough research to back up his claims. The reception history of a Soviet ballet aimed at a Chinese audience is a very original way of presenting early Soviet history and subsequent propaganda strategies.