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In Memoriam: Kenneth Lantz

Emeritus Professor Kenneth Alfred Lantz passed away on August 29, 2020. Born on October 21, 1940, in Edmonton, Alberta, into a family of Swedish and Norwegian immigrants, he was the youngest of four sons of Otto and Mayme Lantz. He spent his first nine years on a farm, and attended a one room school. He received his BA in Slavonic and Soviet Studies from the University of Alberta in 1963, and then served in the Canadian Army, in the armored corps and the 8 th Canadian Hussars, rising to the rank of Second Lieutenant. The climax of his army career was 1964 in Egypt, in the Sinai Desert, where the Reconnaissance Squadron to which he belonged was serving with the United Nations Emergency Force patrolling about twenty-five miles of the Egyptian-Israeli border south from the Gaza strip. After the army, which he left in 1965, he continued his studies at the University of Toronto, where he received his MA in 1967 and his PhD in 1974, both from the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. He began to teach in the Department in 1970 as a lecturer, achieved tenure in 1976, and became a full professor in 1987. His specialty was nineteenth century Russian Literature, on which he wrote many articles and several books. His first book (1979) was on Nikolai Leskov, and he subsequently published reference books on Chekhov and Dostoevsky. He was also a noted translator. His two volume translation of Dostoevsky’s Writer’s Diary won the prize as the best translation of the year from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL) in 1993. The paperback version of the translation came out in 1997.

In 2006, in recognition of his service, Ken received AATSEEL’s annual award for Outstanding Contribution to the Profession. Over his 35 year career, Ken was the kind of colleague that everyone is looking for: intelligent, kind, and conscientious. He was a dedicated teacher of both graduate and undergraduate students. He served twice as chair of the Department and took on many other administrative roles in the Department and the University. He was active in the profession at large, appraising departments and articles. He was secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Association of Slavists (CAS), edited the CAS newsletter for several years, and was the co-editor of Toronto Slavic Quarterly. He digitalized the first nine volumes of Dostoevsky Studies and put them up on the internet.

Ken retired in 2005, but he remained professionally active as a translator. A book of memoirs (Voices from the Gulag) translated by him and originally selected by Alexander Solzhenitsyn came out in 2010, and a book of Solzhenitsyn’s own short stories (Apricot Jam: and Other Stories) in a translation by Ken and Solzhenitsyn’s son Stephan appeared in 2012. In the past few years, he has been working as a translator with Donna Orwin on a two volume anthology of war and Russian Literature to be published by Columbia University Press. His contribution to this project has been immeasurable, and Donna, like all his friends and family, will miss him greatly. Ken’s beloved wife Penny predeceased him in 2017. He leaves behind his two daughters, Kristina and Jennifer, his grandson Nico (Reinders), his son in law Gavin Smith, his brother Edward Lantz, and his brother in law Richard Burley. 

Ken’s family has posted an obituary of him at If people want to communicate directly with the family about their memories of Ken, they can write Kristina at Those who want to contribute to a charity in Ken’s memory should do so to the Canadian War Amps at Ken always contributed to them himself and his daughters have requested that we honor him in this way.

Czech and Slovak Students Club

Congratulations to Prof. Leonid Livak!

Prof. Leonid Livak has been appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Click here for more information.

Congratulations to Prof. Dragana Obradovic!

Prof. Dragana Obradovic has won an SSHRC Insight Development Grant for the research topic entitled “Between Socialist Modernity and the Peasant Co-Operative: Communalism of the Rural in Yugoslavia.”  Her collaborator is Jelena Obradovic-Wochnik, from Aston University in Birmingham, England.

UofT News Story on Dual Delivery

Prof. Donna Orwin was featured in a UofT news story about about her preparations for the fall semester's dual delivery format.

Read the article here.


Upcoming Polish Classes

Click on the posters below for a better view!

New Seminar:
The World Revealed: Cinema, Authenticity, and Theory
(SLA1700H F LEC9101)

Fall 2020, Wednesdays 1-4 pm

Instructor: Prof. Zdenko Mandušić

For Additional Info, contact:

We will investigate the persistent tension between facts and fiction that manifests in pivotal films and works of theory produced in Russia and the Balkans.

Contemporary Ukrainian Poetry Festival

Weekly Online Poetry Readings - July and August

Opening remarks will be delivered by Prof. Maxim Tarnawsky.

The readings will be hosted by Alex Averbuch. The details of each event will be posted on social media a week before the event.

The poems will be read in the original language without translation. The readings will be followed by a group discussion on the latest trends and names in contemporary Ukrainian literature, and questions from the audience in English or Ukrainian.

Welcome, Prof. Zdenko Mandušić!

Prof. Zdenko Mandušić will be joining the Slavic Department in Fall 2020!

Prof. Mandušić researches and teaches Russian and South Slavic cinemas, film theory, East European art and culture after communism, and the articulation of nationalism in literature and films. In particular, his writing focuses on issues of cinematic authenticity, reality effects, the imaginary conceptualization of technology, and the influence of discourse on the production and reception of art. He is currently working on a book project, titled Restoring Truth: The Documentary Turn in Soviet Cinema After Stalin, which focuses on the mobilization of documentary elements in Soviet fiction films of the 1950s and 1960s. This project correlates the visual strategies of feature-length films with the discourse on the divide between documentary and fiction aesthetics during the post-Stalinist revitalization of Soviet cinema. In his next book, Mandušić will examine the representation of history in contemporary Russian and post-Yugoslav cinema and literature, addressing the function of novels and films as de facto sites of historical (re-)narrativization.

Olga Khometa gave a lecture for the Taras Shevchenko Scientific Society in Canada (NTSh) on Tychyna's 1930s works that is a topic from her dissertation project.

Click here to watch the lecture.
(The lecture is in Ukrainian.)

Prof. Donna Orwin joins the BBC World Service’s The Forum this Thursday, July 23, to discuss Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel War & Peace.

Click here for more information.

Alex Averbuch has published in a Russian poetry review a block of poems written by his UofT students as part of the Russian language course he taught at the Slavic Department.

Click here for more information!

Alex Averbuch's interview on his upcoming poetry book in Ukrainian was published on Rid project.

Read more about it here!

Alex Averbuch's interview for Linor Goralik's upcoming volume of interviews with contemporary poets was published on

Major Russian animation company Союзмультфильм has used all-time favorite Soviet cartoon characters to create instructional videos about the coronavirus.

Watch the videos here or watch them below!

Congratulations to Prof. Tamara Trojanowska, whose recent publication, Being Poland: A New History of Polish Literature and Culture since 1918., has won the 2019 AATSEEL Prize for best edited volume.

Click here for more information.

A collection of poems by our graduate student, Alex Averbuch, from his recent book "The testimony of the fourth person" was published in French translation in the Swiss literary journal "La Revue de Belles-Lettres."

The Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI) has awarded our Finnish program a generous grant for the next two years.  This is a sign of the respect the Finnish government has for the work Prof. Anu Muhonen is doing here at Toronto, and we congratulate her on winning this grant.

A new book by Prof. Leonid Livak, on the life and work of a Russian-French translator and poet Ludmila Savitzky, has been published in Moscow. For more details click here.

Students in Elementary Ukrainian and Prof. Mariana Burak have produced a new video.


Prof. Leonid Livak has won this year’s prestigious Modern Language Association (MLA)’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize, awarded biennially, for Studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures.

Click here for more information.


Studying 'Ukrainian language and literature enriched my life': A&S alumnus Mark Strychar-Bodnar

Click here to read the article about an alumnus of the Slavic Department and how his Ukrainian studies enriched his life.

Czech and Slovak Culture Event and Czech Award Ceremony

On November 27th, our Department hosted the event in which students from Czech Language Course and Czech and Slovak Culture Course were presenting to our guests from Czech Community their class projects which included the interviews with some of the Czech community members. The Award Ceremony was a part of it -  Nicolle Mitacek got the Ernest Tauber Award and Alex Bercik got the  Tibor P. Gregor and Arthur J. Langley Sr. Award.

Click the image below to see more photos!

Big day for Polish literature!

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature, postponed from last year, has been awarded to Polish author Olga Tokarczuk, while the 2019 award was given to Austrian author Peter Handke.

Tokarczuk won “for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life." The Judges’ statement also reads that Tokarczuk is “a writer preoccupied with local life but at the same time inspired by maps and speculative thought, looking at life on Earth from above. Her work is full of wit and cunning.”  The committee also singled out for special commendation Tokarczuk’s 1,000-page historical novel, The Books of Jacob, about the 18th-century Jewish sectarian leader, Jacob Frank (Riverhead Books plans to publish the novel in English in 2021). Tokarczuk’s novel “Flights” (translated by Jennifer Croft) won the 2018 Man Booker International Prize for translated fiction.

We hosted Olga Tokarczuk in the department on November 23, 2010. To read more about her, click here, or read a chapter on her writing in the recently published Being Poland. A New History of Polish Literature and Culture since 1918 (UofT Press, 2018).

Alex Averbuch's new article "The Theurgy of Impurity: Fin-de-Race and Feminine Sin in Russian and Ukrainian Modernisms" has just been published in the latest issue of the Russian Review.

Click here for more information.

Prof. Holland's project, "Digital Dostoevsky," which will create an open-access database of Dostoevsky’s works and then use methods of digital text analysis and mapping on those works. The project also includes a book co-authored by Prof. Holland and her co-applicant, Prof. Katherine Bowers (UBC) that shows how different techniques of digital reading can open up old questions about Dostoevsky’s novels in new ways. The grant runs from 2019-2025. Slavic Librarian Ksenya Kiebuzinski is a collaborator on the project.

In his project, "The Final Chapter of Russia Abroad," Prof. Livak, in collaboration with Prof. Siggy Frank of the University of Nottingham (UK), will research and write the cultural history of the disintegration of the anti-Soviet Russian emigre community in France during and after the Second World War.

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