Sally (Sarah) Pratt is a professor of Russian in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. She came to USC as the Russian Language Program Coordinator in 1980 after teaching for three years at Oberlin College. She rose through the ranks to full professor and served as Dean of Academic Programs for USC College from 1997 to 2005. She has served as president of the College Faculty Council and the Academic Senate. She is currently Graduate Advisor in the Slavic Department and College Director of Faculty Development in the Humanities. She worked as an interpreter for the Soviet delegation at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, has served as president of the national Slavic organization AATSEEL, and a member of the International Research Exchange Board. She received her bachelor’s degree from Yale and her Ph.D. from Columbia.
She teaches a full range of courses, both graduate and undergraduate. These include a General Education coursed called “Reason and the Unbearable Lightness of Being,” a course in the Multimedia Core on Russian Thought and Civilization, a freshman seminar entitled “Art and the Evil Empire,” and graduate courses including the proseminar – essentially boot camp for graduate students – and seminars on Russian poetry and other topics.
She has published three books on Russian poetry and numerous articles on such topics as poetry, women’s autobiography, and literary criticism in the Russian context. Her work emphasizes relations between Russian culture and various European cultural traditions, and between the culture of the twentieth century and earlier epochs. She is currently working on a project entitled “Back to a Future Beyond Word and Image: Russian Revolutionary Poets, Church Fathers, and Imagined Icons” that examines the tension between traditional Russian culture (especially Russian Orthodox theology), the rebelliousness of the avant-garde, and the oppressive hand of Stalinist culture.
As a CET Fellow, she is especially interested in the transition from graduate student to new faculty member – the process of landing the job, and then finding one’s way as a full-fledged professional after years of being an “apprentice.” How does one establish oneself as a “grown-up” in the field in one’s own eyes? And in the eyes of others? What are the pitfalls? And what are the academic hazards that actually allow one to show one’s strength? On the undergraduate level, she is interested in classroom dynamics in the context of a “learner-centered” environment. How can group projects be used most productively? What about chat rooms? Do “clickers” really make a large lecture class more learner centered? What about powerpoint? She believes that the discussion of these questions and others is often more important than any single answer.