The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.


Courses in the Russian language and Russian literature, as well as Slavic linguistics, were given between the wars by Professor Clarence L. Meader. Courses in the Polish language and Polish literature were introduced in the 1920s by Professor Tadeusz Mitana. From World War II until 1952 the Department of Russian (as it was then called) was chaired by Lidia Naumovna Pargment, who taught the advanced language and literature courses; teaching fellows were responsible for elementary instruction. In 1947 an interdepartmental M.A. program in Russian Studies was organized to supplement the existing departmental B.A. program in Russian.

The present department officially traces its beginnings to the fall of 1952, when Professor James O. Ferrell was brought here as Chairman of the newly established Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. Under Ferrell's leadership a graduate faculty was hired and an M.A. program in Slavic Languages and Literatures was inaugurated. In 1957 Professor Deming Brown became Chairman; and in 1958 a Page  220Ph.D. program was instituted. From 1961 to 1971 Professor John Mersereau, Jr., served as chairman. During this "post-Sputnik" period the department expanded rapidly in faculty size, breadth of curriculum, and student enrollments. In the early 1960s, when the University was designated a Slavic Language and Area Center under the National Defense Education Act, generous infusions of federal funding were provided in the form of National Defense Foreign Language fellowships and direct salary support for department faculty. By the end of that decade, when federal funding had decreased significantly, the department had achieved its present status and had established itself as one of the leading Ph.D. programs in the field.

The department maintains a vigorous program at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Emphasis is placed on Russian language and literature at both levels, but the department is Slavic in the broad sense, offering training in the principal non-Russian Slavic Languages (Polish, Czech, Serbo-Croatian, and Ukrainian) as well as in the literature and folklore of those traditions; and in Slavic linguistics. The department works with other departments and programs at the University, and has especially close ties with the Program in Comparative Literature; it plays a leading role in the Center for Russian and East European Studies, cooperating extensively in both instructional and research activities with the faculty associates from a wide range of departments who form the nucleus of the Center.