Polish and Balkan studies
Petko Ivanov’s primary interest is in the field of comparative cultural history of the Slavs, with particular emphasis on the interplay of (pan)nationalist and linguistic ideologies in the Slavic countries. He teaches Russian at all levels (introductory, intermediate, and advanced), Nationalism (First-Year Seminar), Introduction to Slavic Studies, Language in Culture (Linguistic Anthropology), Second Language Acquisition, and senior seminars: Russia – from Empire to Nation and Topics in Russian Culture.
The dissertation he is completing titled “What Makes the Slavs Slavic” examines one of the principal sites for negotiating Slavic identities in the course of the last two centuries – the so-called “Cyrillo-Methodian question,” which links all modern Slavdom to the progenitors of Slavic literacy. The study analyzes changing notions of what it means to be a Slav and recounts the rhetorical strategies used by 19 philologists and social architects responsible for “the story of Slavic.”
In his scholarship, Petko Ivanov adheres to an interdisciplinary approach. In studies of folk saint cults in Bulgaria (Venerable Stoyna in particular), he showed how the interplay of elitist and popular lore resulted in alternative forms of religiosity. His work on world fairs, museums and tourism has examined them as identity construction sites by demonstrating the mobilizing effect of exhibiting a nation to itself and to others. Another inquiry traced metaphors of intolerance in mass media in order to expose the mechanisms by which ethnic and gender stereotypes interact. Each of these studies reflects his ongoing interest in alterity and identity, concepts that he examines theoretically in a work in progress titled “The Value of Difference."
He has taught courses in Russian language and culture at the University of Chicago, Beloit College, Middlebury College’s Russian Language School, and the Defense Language Institute (Monterey, CA).
Petko Ivanov is the co-author of a book on folk Christianity (in Bulgarian) and has published anumber of scholarly articles in several languages dealing with ethnography of religion, language engineering and codification, as well as the literary canons of the Slavs.
A collaborative project under Ivanov's editorship is a class newspaper, "Klassnaya Gazeta," written entirely in the target language by the students of his Russian courses. Each issue is designed as a pedagogical tool for scaffolding the students’ command of Russian through open-ended, real-life tasks that stimulate their creativity and add to their motivation. The newspaper project allows the students to co-construct their own learning experience and helps them to actively use the newly acquired interlanguage in a meaningful and sometimes full of surprises interaction between themselves and with the teacher. All issues of Klassnaya Gazeta are available at Connecticut College’s Digital Commons, the College’s digital repository of scholarly work.
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