Russian television provides opportunities for learning and collaborative research

Watching too much television is bad for you. That is, unless you’re a student in Elena Prokhorova’s Senior Research Seminar class. In Prof. Prokhorova’s class, they’re studying the cultural significance of television programs like the Russian version of Fran Drescher’s sitcom “The Nanny”, but this is no mere classroom exercise. The course is designed around an end-of-semester scholarly symposium the students are organizing. Jacob Lassin (’12), a student in the class, has been working hard on organizing the conference, including designing the conference t-shirt. Jacob is in the group working on the conference paper focusing on the Russian Nanny, and he says their paper will be “about adapting gender roles from an American sitcom to a Russian sitcom, and how gender roles are portrayed.” Watch Jacob’s interview, with a discussion of the paper, below:

The symposium, which will take place on April 7-9, will host many prominent scholars in the field of Russian Cultural Studies from around the world. Will Sinnott, W&M class of 2011, another Russian student involved in the symposium, describes how the experience of working on the symposium has broken some of the boundaries between faculty and students and has led to real collaboration and research opportunities. Watch an excerpt from Will’s interview here:

Prohorova emphasizes that “the students are involved in the most immediate way: they will present their papers, they are participating in all other panels, so they will be exposed to actual research that is happening in the field, and they are also involved in organizing this whole event.”

The synergy of coursework and real research, along with the opportunity to meet and interact with scholars in the profession, makes this a unique opportunity for the students in the Russian program, and the skills they are learning in organizing the symposium are remarkable. This emerging model of collaboration between our faculty members and students to produce real research and real-world forums in which to present that research is one of the most exciting new developments at the College and Professor Prokhorova is hoping to be able to continue hosting such symposia in future years.

The symposium will take place from Thursday April 7 through Saturday, April 9, 2011. Many of the symposium’s events, such as film and television episode screenings (some subtitled by our own students), will be open to the public. For more information, a list of participants and a schedule of events can be found on the symposium website: http://russiantv.wm.edu. All the featured films and television programs will be available at Swem Library at the end of the symposium.

Professor Prokhorova would like to thank the Reves Center for International Studies, the Charles Center, Global Studies, Film Studies and the Office of the Dean of Arts & Sciences for their generous support.

About Mike Blum

Mike is the Academic Technologist for the Humanities at the College

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