Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Slavic Studies and Philosophy
Retired from teaching in 2010
B.A., Zagreb University; M.A., Yale University
Russian language and literature
Professor Despalatovic professes to be interested in simple things, which upon examination turn out to be "devilishly interesting": canonical texts, formal characteristics of such texts, and the inevitable profusion of readings and interpretations.
He taught Russian and Central European literatures, The Philosophical Novel, Intellectual History of Russia, Chekhov and modern dramaturgy, Film Theory, and Marxism.
He has published translations of Hemingway, J.Conrad, I.Kant, A.S.Pushkin, and essays on various and sundry topics. During the wars in what used to be Yugoslavia (1991-1995) he visited the area each year and reported on the unpleasant "hiccup," as the first Bush called it. He regularly gives papers at national and international conferences.
A few students' views of his teaching:
"He is by far the most unique professor that I have studied under, both extremely modest and extremely arrogant. He can be the most hardened conservative while at the same time most accepting of people... He seemed to be teaching at one (or two) levels higher than the class was prepared for. The result was to push students into a level of conversation that most of us had never experienced before..."
"An incisive mind, impeccable manners and a deadly Socratic approach to teaching. He destroyed all my preconceived notions of education and then helped me to develop my mind so that it could meet any challenge with courage and fortitude."
"His teaching is so discrete that at first it is difficult to grasp exactly what he is after. But if you stick with him eventually you begin to think a little bit in the same discrete manner. His courses are not for the weak of heart!"
"I sometimes feel he thinks we are idiots. Perhaps we are, but a little forbearance would go a long way towards making his teaching more effective."
"His Olympian view of us and of what we do sometimes diminishes his effectiveness, I think. Still, if you survive his course you may in time begin to get what he is after."
"Students must be ready for a lot of thinking "outside the box." If they are not ready, they will be very confused and lost."