Introducing Lecturer: Helen Myers


I joined the OSU Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures in 2009 to pursue a doctorate in Russian linguistics, literature and film. In my dissertation entitled “Semiotic analysis of Russian prose fiction in modern Russian film adaptations”, I analyzed signs and signifiers that constitute structural composition of Alexander Pushkin’s historical works Boris Godunov and The Captain’s Daughter and compared them with their Soviet and post-Soviet screen adaptations. I argued that the popularity of these literary works with filmmakers is based on their inexhaustible topicality for Russian society of the Soviet and post-Soviet periods, and therefore reassessment of their film adaptations guides us towards developing a better understanding of the sociopolitical complexities in contemporary Russia.

My research interests lie in the areas of Russian literature and culture of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, Russian film and media, gender studies, and Russian linguistics. Currently, I have been investigating the development of the Gulag theme in Russian prose, especially in recently published Gulag survivors’ memoirs and newly written novels by contemporary Russian authors such as Oleg Volkov, Anatoly Rybakov, Zakhar Prilepin and others.


My Russian class- Russ 5101.

I have extensive experience of teaching in different schools in the USA and Russia. Prior to the OSU, I taught a variety of courses in world literature and international studies at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. Before immigrating to USA, I taught Russian language, literature, and economics in one of the oldest and largest Russian cities, Tver, that in medieval times competed with Moscow state for the title of the capital of Russia.


After completion of my PhD studies, I continue teaching at the OSU courses in Russian language, Russian Film, Sci-Fi literature and film, Russian Culture, and others. My favorite way to teach language is the communicative method when the context of the lesson is closely modeled after real life situations.  When teaching content courses, I work to stimulate students’ engagement with in-depth discussions and small groups that prompt them to inspect each topic more carefully.  Technology also makes a big part of my teaching style in the forms of multi-media presentations, smart boards, video clips, TV and radio shows, creating Wiki sites and utilizing discussion forums.

Cheburashka and Carlson!


As a teacher of Russian language and culture, I strive to prepare my students to be able to collaborate beyond interpersonal, ethnic and political boundaries. To accomplish this, I treat my time as a teacher as opportunity to engender critical thinkers and leaders guided by responsibility for global processes; ones acutely aware of the interconnectedness of social and political decisions.


I believe myself to be a facilitator of learning, not simply a deliverer of knowledge, and therefore I place a special focus on creating the environment of

mutual respect in the classroom, where students feel safe and stimulated to contribute their ideas and achievements.

Me during classtime.

Back to the (Polish) Basics, with Suzanne Pietrzak

After wondering and wondering how to best use my Luczkowski-Habash Polish Studies Award, it finally came to me. I have spent much of my summer babysitting my Polish “cousins,” and by “cousins,”

Me holding my Luczkowski-Habash Polish Studies Award after the Spring Tea awards ceremony.

I mean very close family friends of my parents. These two girls are three and six years old. Although their mother is the daughter of Polish immigrants, the Polish language has not fully made its way to them. So, I decided to put my scholarship and long hours of babysitting to use by teaching these two “cousins,” Emily and Sarah, how to speak Polish.


Learning the basics of Polish allowed these two girls to better communicate with their grandparents and great grandma who live just down the street. Improving Emily’s and Sarah’s skills also removed the burden of their grandparents of having to speak in broken English just to talk to their granddaughters. With my scholarship money, I was able to buy them all the supplies they needed, from notebooks and pencils to Polish flash cards, to develop their limited Polish. A more exciting item I purchased for Emily and Sarah was a small pink purse that actually spoke and sang in Polish. I hope to be able to find more Polish-speaking toys for these two girls.

Although getting two little girls to sit and focus can be pretty difficult, I got the girls to practice their flash cards every week. I also chose to speak to Emily and Sarah in Polish throughout my days of babysitting. By speaking to the girls in Polish, I improved my own language skills as well as their understanding ability. Having Emily and Sarah hear Polish on a more regular basis vastly improved their strength in their family’s native language.


My favorite memory from babysitting the girls this summer was taking Emily and Sarah to the Toledo Zoo for a day. Our trip to the zoo was a learning experience in itself. The girls were able to learn the names of all the animals we saw in Polish.  Emily a

Three-year-old Sarah, left, and six-year-old Emily, right, posing with their Polish flash cards.

nd Sarah were so excited to see the pingwiny, słonie, małpy, and other animals. Although, I think their favorite part had to have been the ice cream we got after exploring the zoo on a hot summer day!


Being able to take the Polish language as a course at The Ohio State University has opened so many doors for me. By strengthening my reading and writing skills and perfecting speaking skill in the small classes, I was able to better communicate with my family here in America and back in Poland. Since most of my communication with family in Poland is online, gaining an understanding in reading and writing Polish allowed me to finally type messages to my cousins without the help of Google Translate or my mother. With my improved Polish skills, I was able to pass on my knowledge to Emily and Sarah with the belief that I am improving their family relationships. Helping these two girls learn Polish has not only improved all of our Polish language skills, it has helped me grow closer to them and it has helped them grow closer to their family. Their parents and grandparents have been very appreciative of my help and have agreed to continue furthering Emily’s and Sarah’s growth in the Polish language even after I go back to school in the fall.


As a student as The Ohio State University, I am minoring in Slavic Languages and Cultures because I want to set myself apart from the 50,000 some students on this campus. I am one of thousands majoring in Microbiology but I am one of few with a minor in Slavic Languages and Cultures. My minor has allowed me to broaden my knowledge of other Slavic cultures beyond that of my own Polish traditions. Taking Polish 1103 and 2104 allowed me to connect to my roots but taking Slavic 2367 allowed me to make connections of my own customs to that of other Eastern European cultures. The great honor of receiving the Luczkowski-Habash Polish Studies Award has given me the opportunity to share what I have learned during my first year at OSU with my two favorite little “cousins” and that is priceless.


In Memoriam: Jerzy R. Krzyzanowski


Image result for Jerzy R. Krzyzanowski.

It is with regret that the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures at the Ohio State University announces the death on October 7, 2017 of our emeritus professor Jerzy R. Krzyzanowski.


Born in 1922 in Lublin, Poland, the son of Julian Krzyzanowski, the scholar of Polish literature, and Emilia née Sobieszczanska, Jerzy Krzyzanowski served in the Polish Armia Krajowa during World War II. Like his father Julian, who was deported to Siberia in the wake of the first world war, Jerzy spent several years in a Soviet POW camp in Central Europe after the second. He emigrated to the United States in 1959 and earned his PhD at the University of Michigan in 1965. Before arriving at Ohio State University in 1967, Prof. Kryzanowski taught at the University of California, Berkeley, University of Colorado, and the University of Kansas. He spent the bulk of his career in Columbus, Ohio, where he influenced generations of students, teaching both Polish and Russian.


In addition to his service to Ohio State, Jerzy Krzyzanowski served numerous associations including the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America (P.I.A.S.A.), where he was a board member from 1980-86. Author of many materials for studying Polish, Jerzy also wrote the biography of Władysław Reymont (Twayne, 1972) and a companion to Sienkiewicz’s famous trilogy as well as novels, books, and memoirs in Polish, many of which have been published over the past two decades.


Remembered for his infectious smile and his kind manner, Prof. Jerzy Krzyzanowski was a consummate professional and gentleman who continued to attend university events well into his retirement. The department sends its heartfelt condolences to his sons Kris and Justyn, as well as to those colleagues whose lives he touched as a teacher and scholar.