INTRODUCING ULBANDUS ONLINE
In a long-lost Upper West Side café around 1976, Cathy Nepomnyashchy and Misha Naydan kicked around an idea for a mimeographed—yes, mimeographed—newsletter about recent scholarship and events in Columbia’s Slavic Department. That newsletter never got made. Instead, it blossomed into Ulbandus, a full-scale scholarly journal that has been published by graduate students in the Slavic Department at Columbia since 1977 (with a few lapses and hiatuses).
Ulbandus, now known as “The Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Review of Columbia University” has published an inspiring array of pathbreaking scholarship both from graduate students who have gone on to become leaders in the field and from already prominent scholars. Some of my favorite past pieces include Eric Naiman’s examination of Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran (in Marijeta Bozovic’s 2006 issue, “My Nabokov”); and a survey on the application of postcolonial theory in the region, conducted by Jonathan Brooks Platt (in his issue, 2003) with responses from the likes of Gayatri Spivak and Alexander Etkind.
The publication has been blessed by continued support and generosity from Columbia Slavic faculty and alumni, who have given immeasurable time, donated funds, and contributed outstanding scholarship. From Rufus Mathewson’s essay on Thoreau and Chekhov in the very first edition all the way up through Tatiana Smoliarova’s luminous piece on Derzhavin in the most recent, Columbia’s faculty has helped Ulbandus become a prominent publication in the field.
For all it does for everyone who works on the publication or is printed in its pages, for all its accomplishments (and I only gave a very brief sample above), Ulbandus never became the informal newsletter Cathy Nepomnyashchy and Misha Naydan imagined in that Upper West Side café. Though we no longer have access to a mimeograph machine, we’re launching Ulbandus Online, in part, as a tribute to that original conception.
This online companion to the annual print journal will publish shorter, intellectually rich, but accessible pieces of public scholarship, reviews of recent books, films and events, and commentary on cultural and social developments in the region, broadly defined. We are particularly excited to feature contributions from less-traditional media and genres, like satire, translations of poetry and prose, audio and video contributions, and original artwork and photography.
We hope that Ulbandus Online will provoke rich discussions on the issues, culture, and scholarship of our region and on the various disciplines related to our field of study. As you read through the site, please consider becoming more involved. Write our editors and propose to contribute something to the site, submit an academic article to the next issue of the print journal, or even help us out by subscribing to Ulbandus.