UW-Green Bay’s Katia Levintova wants people to know there’s more to Russia than fur hats and nesting dolls.
And while these common images of her homeland may be simplistic, she knows they’re among those people think of when they picture the world’s largest country.
Levintova, associate professor of Public Environmental Affairs, hopes to change that Thursday, Sept. 26, when she presents “Russia Today,” the latest installment in UW-Green Bay’s Dinner Lecture Series. Her talk will focus on numerous aspects of Russia’s diversity, from climates, landscapes and cultures to traditions, history, language, customs and more.
“People might kind of assume this very stoic, very stone-faced image of Russia,” said Levintova, chair of Political Science and Global Studies. “But you know, Russians are known for their hospitality. … I think people realize how large Russia is, but just learning the hidden diversity — I’ll talk about different ethnic groups, their customs and dancing and costumes. The folk art — again, people just kind of have one image, of the nesting dolls, when they think about Russian folk art. But there’s so much more to it.”
One of Levintova’s areas of scholarship is post-communist society, and she often conducts research in Russia while visiting family during the summer. With Russia in the news frequently as of late, she anticipates there may be some questions concerning the country’s politics.
“One of the contrasts is, it’s such a modern country,” Levintova said, “but politics is sometimes — there is a lot of nostalgia for the Soviet Union in contemporary Russian politics, there’s all these debates about Stalinism, what was good, what was bad. So definitely, I think we can talk about politics in this contrastive way, as well.”
Levintova also helped shape the menu for the evening, which includes a Russian Potato Salad (one of her personal favorites), a hearty Borsch soup, beef stroganoff, stuffed cabbage roll, noodles with field mushrooms and dessert. Russia’s famous hospitality is showcased, in part, in its cuisine, she said.
The Dinner Lecture Series event, presented by UW-Green Bay Outreach, will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12 with a gathering and cash bar in the Phoenix Room of the University Union. The dinner and presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m. and conclude by 8 p.m. Registration and additional information is available online.
Levintova is looking forward to sharing Russia’s diversity with the audience, she said.
“It spans two continents — it’s not even one continent; it’s Eurasia,” she said. “So you have these cultural contrasts, geographical contrasts, just everything — history, modernity. You name it, we got it.”