Slavic and Eurasian Studies

Dr. Marina Alexandrova Voted "Texas 10" Top UT Instructor for 2019!

Thu, May 2, 2019
Dr. Marina Alexandrova Voted
Dr. Marina Alexandrova

Congratulations to Dr. Marina Alexandrova
"Texas 10" Favorite Professor for 2019!

See full list of 2019 "Texas Ten" instructors here

 

 

 

Every year since 2011, Alcalde, the magazine of the Texas Exes, has asked alumni to nominate their favorite professor from their time on the Forty Acres. The results form the annual "Texas 10" awards to honor these most inspiring UT professors.

Dr. Alexandrova shared with us that she is "so humbled and honored to receive such a distinction. It is such a privilege and joy to work with my wonderful students and supportive faculty and staff at CREEES, COLA, and UT Austin!"

Read the Alcalde's interview with Dr. Marina Alexandrova below. Read the full article here.

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Marina Alexandrova

Senior Lecturer, Slavic and Eurasian Studies | Years at UT: 9

 

In the same way that Marina Alexandrova uses the history of 18th and 19th century czars to explain Putin’s Russia, she also synthesizes the old school and the new in her teaching philosophy.

In her Intensive Russian course, students attend class daily, to finish what would be two years of learning the Russian language in just one year. Every night, they have two to three hours of homework. Every day, before verb conjugation or grammar or dialects, Alexandrova leads the class in mindfulness exercises. Sometimes they will share what is working well in class. Sometimes they will talk about what they’ve had for breakfast. Sometimes they will just breathe together.

“It’s a conscious effort to make sure students are well taken care of emotionally, intellectually, and academically,” she says. “When they are relaxed and being their most true selves, they can create better and contribute better.”

Don’t be mistaken: Alexandrova isn’t singing “Kumbayah” in any of her classes. Her students study the canon, like Turgenev, Chekhov, and Dostoevsky, and read writings by lesser-known anarchists like Mikhail Bakunin and even Ukranian revolutionary and assassin Sergey Stepnyak-Kravchinsky. “The work is really eye-opening for students,” Alexandrova says. “Those ideas are revolutionary even in today’s world. We can use those texts as a springboard to discuss present-day Russia, and present-day America.”

It leads to discussions — and sometimes arguments, which she encourages, if they are respectful — about the “goodness” of humanity, and the meaning of life.

“Russians always love to talk about the meaning of life,” Alexandrova laughs.

Outside the classroom, Alexandrova works with several local theater companies as a cultural expert. Her most important work, though, is teaching.

“I love all kinds of students — when they’re open-minded, when they’re closed-minded, when they come with preconceived notions of what Russia is,” she says. “They become citizens of the world when they study different cultures. It can prepare my students to go to Russia or Russian-speaking regions, work at a think-tank, or in American embassies. They email me later and it’s so gratifying. They can function in Russia and understand the culture. Making Russians and Americans understand each other is much needed.” — Chris O’Connell

 

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