Commitment to Teaching and Research Excellence
Professor of History, Dr. Mara Kozelsky, joined the faculty of USA’s Department of
History in the fall of 2005. She earned her Ph.D. in History from the University of
Rochester, where she taught history-themed writing classes for Rochester’s Writing
in the Disciplines Program.
A well-published scholar, Kozelsky’s first book, Christianizing Crimea, focuses on the influence of religious belief on political affairs. “Before Russian annexation in 1783,” Kozelsky says, “Crimea was predominantly Muslim. After annexation, the Russian Orthodox Church revived ancient Orthodox legends to recast Crimea as the Cradle of Russian Christianity. The effort intensified during the Crimean War (1853-1856), and religious tensions exploded when some Russian officials began to label Crimean Tatars as enemies of the state for their Islamic faith.” Research for this interdisciplinary book involved immersion in nineteenth-century scientific literature and Orthodox thought.
Her most recent book, Crimea in War and Transformation, examines “the terrible toll of violence on peoples and landscapes of Crimea and what is now southern Ukraine.” It combines traditional military history with “a cultural and social history of war” by, in Kozelsky’s words, focusing on “hunger, food supply, [and] civilian-military interaction.” To construct her historical account, Kozelsky gathered archival data from repositories located in Crimea, Russia, and Ukraine. She also drew upon “contemporary published literature such as newspaper accounts and debates in the Russian Empire’s nineteenth-century periodical press."
Currently, Kozelsky is working on two related projects. One is biography of Fedor Karlovich Zatler, a Russian Crimean War veteran and military philosopher who wrote about logistics. Her second project is a collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literature: Dr. Nicholas Gossett, Assistant Professor of Russian, and Ms. Ekaterina Zakharova, who has a joint appointment as Instructor of Russian and an Academic Records Specialist in the Registrar’s Office. The three are translating and annotating a broad spectrum of Crimean War texts to make this conflict accessible to scholars and students who do not read Russian. A portion of their texts will be published with a university press. Other texts will be published in an on-line repository they will create with the assistance of Deborah Gurt, Processing/Digital Archivist Assistant Librarian in the Doy Leale McCall Manuscript and Rare Book Library at USA’s Marx Library.
As with research, teaching is another of Kozelsky’s passions. Whether she is teaching a freshman course or senior seminar or graduate class, Kozelsky says “Each offers the opportunity to learn new material and to challenge students to think more deeply about connections between the past and present.”
The desire to learn something new has always been important to Kozelsky. From an early age she says she “experienced a visceral need to understand how our world evolved the way it did.” As a result, for Kozelsky “the study of history is a very basic, elemental calling.” If she were not a historian, Kozelsky says she “sometimes envy the chemists’ hands-on work in the lab, and scientists generally for their knowledge of how the physical universe works.”
As she looks ahead towards goals, Kozelsky has her sights set on completing the Zatler biography and the joint project with Gossett and Zakharova. This latter project is centered in the emergent interdisciplinary field of digital humanities. According to Kozelsky, she would like to get students actively involved in the project by “offering a team-taught translation/historical research and annotation course to build an open-access supplementary on-line archive.”
When she is not teaching or doing her research, Kozelsky finds enjoyment in a host of hobbies. For example, she likes to be outdoors: walking or running but also sailing or gardening. Other passions include yoga and traveling. All of these activities help Kozelsky sustain her commitment to teaching and research excellence in the College of Arts & Sciences.