The Columns

W&L’s Anna Brodsky Pens Column for Major Russian Newspaper

— by on December 8th, 2011

The millions of readers of the major Russian newspaper can now turn to the “Lifestyle” column to read essays by Anna Brodsky, associate professor of Russian at Washington and Lee University.

Brodsky, who is Russian and immigrated to the United States in her early 20s, began writing her column this summer and said that this is the first time she has written in Russian for publication. She added that the newspaper is considered in Russia to be among the most liberal and fair-minded publications. “Because I write the cultural column I probably have a little more leeway in what I write than people who write straightforward or political news,” she said.

She noted that the subjects she writes about mostly follow her scholarship. “I write about a variety of rights and social justice and sometimes include other rights such as animal rights,” she said. One subject the newspaper commissioned her to write about was the introduction of the law allowing gay marriages in New York. “It was nice that they were interested in the expansion of the rights of people in the distant United States,” she said.

Brodsky also writes pieces concerning her work as a literary historian, such as theater and film criticism. One such essay dealt with a play being performed in Paris. “The play was based on a story by the early 20th century writer and Nobel Prize laureate Ivan Bunin.  It is about white émigrés—people who fled communist Russia—and this allowed me to introduce the subject of contemporary Russian refugees, particularly those from Chechnya,” she said.

Since Brodsky is freelancing for the newspaper, she can write the column at her own pace and is currently working on her eighth column. “I’m having a blast!” she said.

The opportunity to write the column came Brodsky’s way after she wrote a series of letters to her friend Olga Dunaevskay, a well-known Russian journalist and professor of journalism at Moscow State University, about her experiences collecting signatures to protest the Confederate flag in Lexington. “As I was writing those letters I began to get a feel for the journalistic writing style. My friend sent a couple of my pieces to the newspaper, and they just offered me the column,” she explained.

Currently on sabbatical for the fall term, Brodsky expressed concern that she will be able to keep up the pace of writing the column when she returns to teaching. “At this point I would like to keep doing this for the foreseeable future because it’s an exciting opportunity for me to reach millions of readers,” she said.