Fall AATSEEL meeting

Today I attended the fall session of AzAATSEEL (Arizona section of the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages). It is at this point made up primarily of university instructors and grad students.

It was probably the best or one of the best I’ve attended since I’ve been going – 1973 or so is when I started and I’ve missed few. I found out that the recently resurrected h.s. program in Tucson is up to 95 students. We had a brief discussion about Russian AP and we talked around the issue of job openings and so forth.

Then we got down to the program. We had a talk on the concept of being a Muslim in Uzbekistan. More and more, Central Asians and Central Asian topics come into the AATSEEL purview. A young scholar from Kazakhstan attended today and other attendees had ties to Central Asian countries.

Then a discussion of Isaac Babal’s story Konarmiya (Horse Army or Cavalry) and the role of men in it. Not having read Babel despite having a nice two-volume set on my shelf of his works incl this one, I was pleasantly surprised at all the horrors Babel depicts as occurring in the 1920s. It nicely counters the silly arguments I hear all the time about how terrible things are now.

Semiotics were/was introduced at this point in connection with a film titled Cuckoo (Kukushka). The presentation made me want to see the film and to learn more about semiotics (why not “full otics”?).

A very interesting presentation to us grammar buffs involved the word “to call” (by phone), in Russian literally “to ring”, so it was used prior to A.G. Bell for masters calling servants via a service bell of some sort. Issues of case and prepositions were addressed but overall the focus was on ambiguity in usage. Fascinating stuff.

In addition, we had a very brief presentation from a representative of ASU’s Melikan Institute and its Critical Languages Institute on the opportunities available through the institute. Having taken the institute’s course in Macedonian in 1998, I have a special fondness for the program – it was one of the best language courses I’ve ever taken and strongly influenced my own teaching. I label the activities I derived from that course “Macedonian”, no matter what language I’m teaching. The program offers a variety of languages in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia.

Next semester it’s in Tucson at the U of Az.

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