Russian scholar to complete book at Harvard after receiving prestigious fellowship
A professor of Russian and Slavic studies in Florida State University's College of Arts and Sciences has received a major fellowship that will enable her to complete her latest book at Harvard University.
Lisa Ryoko Wakamiya, an associate professor in the college's Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, will spend the 2013-2014 academic year conducting research and writing her book in Cambridge, Mass., after receiving a Senior Fellowship from Harvard's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.
"The Harvard-based Senior Fellowship at the Davis Center is prestigious and is another indication of Lisa's high quality of scholarly activity," said Sam Huckaba, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "It is a mark of excellence that highlights both Lisa's work and the level of scholarship in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics."
Competition for senior fellowships at the Davis Center is extraordinarily rigorous. This year, the center received 192 applications for the six senior fellow positions that were available, meaning only about 3 percent of applicants were selected.
Wakamiya said the fellowship will support research and writing toward her book project, a study of the practice of collecting and how objects that are brought together in a collection can tell a story.
"Collections may function as autobiographies that tell us something about the collector himself, or as artifacts that tell us about the time and place in which the objects originated," she said. "They may also remind viewers of aspects of their own lives. Collections help to link the present with the past, the self with others, and material objects with personal and historical narratives."
One Russian artist of particular interest to Wakamiya is Vladimir Nabokov, the author of numerous Russian and English-language novels including the classic "Lolita." Nabokov was a lifelong butterfly collector and served as curator of Lepidoptera at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology for six years.
"Collecting is not only a thematic thread in Nabokov's biography and fiction, but a structuring device," Wakamiya said. "The objects he collects, including butterflies, stand in for experiences and ideas that he then organizes into compositions."
As part of her senior fellowship, Wakamiya said she looks forward to participating in a weekly seminar at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. The fellowship also will allow her access to Harvard's libraries and archival materials, as well as provide opportunities for scholarly collaboration with people in other disciplines and from other countries.
The mission of the Davis Center is "to support both individual research and sponsored research programs on Russia and the nations and countries that surround it" and "to actively pursue all meaningful opportunities for more fruitful and intense intellectual collaboration across countries, disciplines and generations."
As a faculty member in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, Wakamiya teaches Russian language, culture and history to FSU undergraduate and graduate students.
"Russian plays an important role on the world stage and is especially valuable for students interested in pursuing careers in the federal government, the military or foreign service," she said. "The Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics is committed to providing students with the cultural knowledge and research and language skills that they need in an increasingly global world."
Wakamiya is the author of the book "Locating Exiled Writers in Contemporary Russian Literature" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). She also is the co-editor of "Late and Post-Soviet Russian Literature: A Reader," forthcoming from Academic Studies Press.
The Davis fellowship is not Wakamiya's first major academic award. In 2005, she received a fellowship from the Fulbright Scholar Program. It enabled her to spend six months in Moscow conducting research for a book on writers exiled in the last decades of the Soviet period who have since returned to Russia.
Wakamiya also has been recognized for her abilities in the classroom, having won an FSU Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2006.
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