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Julia Verkholantsev

Associate Professor and Undergraduate Chair
Russian and East European Studies
Global Medieval Studies


On academic leave until Spring 2018



Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles (Slavic Languages and Literatures)
M.A. Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Indo-European) Linguistics)
B.A. Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Russian and Slavic Studies; Linguistics; Greek Language and Literature)

Academic Interests

My academic interests are in the field of cultural and religious history, early modern and medieval literary and linguistic culture, and the history of ideas. My publications are concerned with the cultural space of eastern, central, and southern medieval and early modern Europe, particularly, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Bohemia, Poland, and Croatia. In research and teaching, I deal with topics that include the history of and approaches to language, writing, and literacy; pre-modern historical writing and historical methods; Slavic (Cyrillic, Glagolitic, and Latin) and Greek paleography and cryptography; projects and theories of universal language; and Russian medieval and modern literature and culture. My undergraduate courses examine medieval literary and historical topics in the context of modern society and reveal their importance in the development of contemporary culture, politics, and social norms. In literature courses I focus on the study of reading strategies of imaginative texts that leads to the advanced understanding of literature as part of cultural history.



My early publications focus on the cultural space of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – a multi-national and multi-cultural state in pre-modern Central Europe – and particularly its Ruthenian lands, which are now within the borders of modern-day Ukraine and Belarus. My first book, Ruthenica Bohemica: Ruthenian Translations from Czech in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Poland (Vienna: Lit-Verlag, 2008), examines the historical circumstances and textual history of the fifteenth-century Ruthenian translations from Czech of “The Song of Songs,” “The Book of Taudal the Knight” (“The Vision of Tundal”), “The Tale of Sivilla the Prophetess” (“The Sibylline Prophecy”) and “The Book of Tovit.” The analysis of these Czech Catholic sources adapted in the Orthodox Ruthenian milieu shows that the cultural and doctrinal divide between the Catholic and Orthodox civilizations in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was not as strict as is generally assumed.
Also related to the cultural history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania are a number of articles (published in Drevniaia Rus, Slavia, etc.) and a multi-author book that I co-edited with Vyacheslav V. Ivanov, Speculum Slaviae Orientalis: Muscovy, Ruthenia and Lithuania in the Late Middle Ages (Moscow: Novoe Izdatel’stvo, 2005).
           A number of my more recent publications (published in Speculum, Viator, Ricerche slavistiche, etc.) are related to the medieval belief that the Church Father and biblical translator St. Jerome was a Slav and the inventor of the Slavic (Glagolitic) alphabet and Roman Slavonic rite. My book, The Slavic Letters of St. Jerome: The History of the Legend and its Legacy or, How the Translator of the Vulgate Became an Apostle of the Slavs (De Kalb: Northern Illinois University Press, Orthodox Christian Studies Series, 2014) explores the history of this belief and investigates its spread from Dalmatia to Bohemia and Poland. Now largely forgotten, the legend of the Slavic descent of St. Jerome was used by political and religious leaders from Rome to Bohemia and beyond for nearly five hundred years until it was debunked by eighteenth-century scholars as erroneous. I examine this belief within the wider context of European historical and theological thought and show that it had an effect far beyond the Slavic world.
I am currently working on a new project that deals with etymological reasoning in medieval and early modern historical writing. Contrary to a traditional view, which sees medieval etymological explanations as “false etymologies” or ornaments of style, I examine etymological method as a scholarly device in the context of contemporaneous theories of rhetoric and history, and attitudes to language as an epistemological instrument.



RUSS 234, Medieval Rus: Origins of Russian Cultural Identity (cross-listed COML 235, HIST 219)
RUSS 213, Saints and Devils in Russian Literature and Traditions (cross-listed COML 213, RELS 218), often taught as a Freshman Seminar
SLAV 100, Slavic Civilization (cross-listed HIST 231)
RUSS 100, Introduction to Russian Culture
RUSS 410, Russian Folk and Literary Tale (in Russian)
RUSS 412, Romantics and Realists: Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature and Culture (in Russian)
RUSS 419, Russian Song and Folklore (in Russian)

Graduate seminars

COML 619, Eastern & Western Medieval Europe: Bohemia as Center in the Age of the Luxemburgs (co-taught with Kevin Brownlee)
RUSS 618, Cultural History of Medieval Rus’ (800–1725) (cross-listed HIST620, COML618)
SLAV 526, In Defiance of Babel: The Quest for a Universal Language (cross-listed COML 526, ENGL 705, HIST 526)
SLAV 517, Medieval Rus: Origins of Russian Cultural Identity

Select Recent Publications

The Slavic Letters of St. Jerome

The Slavic Letters of St. Jerome : The History of the Legend and Its Legacy, or, How the Translator of the Vulgate Became an Apostle of the Slavs, Julia Verkholantsev, Northern Illinois University Press, DeKalb, IL, 2014

Ruthenica Bohemica: Ruthenian Translations from Czech in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Poland, Julia Verkholantsev
Slavische Sprachgeschichte Bd 3. Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2008

Speculum Slaviae Orientalis: Muscovy, Ruthenia and Lithuania in the Late Middle Ages, Julia Verkholantsev, Vyacheslav V. Ivanov, eds.
UCLA Slavic Studies, n.s., IV, Moscow: Novoe Izdatel’stvo, 2005

Last updated on July 21, 2017