Sarah PrattProfessor of Slavic Languages and Literatures
Phone: (213) 740-2735
Office: THH 255
Sally (Sarah) Pratt's primary interests lie in the fields of poetry and cultural relations. She is the author of three books: Nikolai Zabolotsky: Enigma and Cultural Paradigm (Northwestern University Press, 2000); Russian Metaphysical Romanticism: The Poetry of Tiutchev and Boratynskii (Stanford University Press, 1984); and The Semantics of Chaos in Tjutcev (Sagner, 1983). She has also published a number of articles on the Russian critic Lidia Ginzburg, and on Russian women's autobiography focusing on Nadezhda Mandel'shtam, Lidia Chukovskaia, and Lidia Ginzburg, and is working on a project tentatively entitled Back to a Future Beyond Word and Image: Russian Revolutionary Poets, Church Fathers, and Imagined Icons. Her work on Zabolotsky examines the tension between impulses of traditional Russian culture, (especially Russian Orthodox theology), the avant-garde, and burgeoning Stalinist culture in the work of the poet Zabolotsky and, to a lesser degree, in the works of Zabolotsky’s colleagues in the avant-garde group that called itself the “OBERIU.” It is in the meshing of the apparently mutually contradictory elements listed above that Zabolotsky emerges as both an enigma and a cultural paradigm of his era. The book's focal point is a discussion of the Oberiu Declaration, written in the main by Zabolotsky, as a surprisingly “conservative” avant-garde document, with roots reaching down to the theology of the icon and the lexicon of the Orthodox liturgy, as well as to the ideologies of Futurism, Constructivism, and the Marxism of the new Soviet state. Other chapters of the book trace major themes and cultural connections in Zabolotsky's poetry, including the poet's relation to Bakhtinian carnival, “Russian laughter” as defined by Likhachev and Panchenko, Symbolism (especially the poetry of Blok and Bal’mont), the paradigms of Socialist Realism, and more predictably, the poetry of Pushkin, Boratynskii, Tiutchev, Lermontov, Mandelstam, and others. Russian Metaphysical Romanticism offers a study of the metaphysical poetry of Fedor Tiutchev and Evgenii Boratynskii, placing the poets within the context of various strains of Russian romanticism and German romantic thought. As in her work on Zabolotsky, Pratt juxtaposes individual examples of the poetry with cultural documents such as letters and philosophical tracts, and with poems on similar themes by other authors. In The Semantics of Chaos in Tjutcev, she examines the striking and seemingly self-contradictory image of chaos in Tiutchev's poetry, linking it to the philosophy of Friedrich Schelling. Pratt’s current project, Back to a Future Beyond Word and Image: Russian Revolutionary Poets, Church Fathers, and Imagined Icons, uses theology, literary theory, and theory of visual culture to explore a religious and visionary impulse in the work of a number of Russian avant-garde poets; and then to reflect back on relations among theology, ideology and theory, concluding with a discussion of – and questions about – the nature of ekphrasis and of art itself in the given context. Pratt received a B.A. in Russian Studies from Yale University, and the Ph.D. in Russian Literature from Columbia University. She taught at Oberlin College before moving to the University of Southern California. She served as Dean of Academic Programs of USC College from 1997 to 2005, and now serves as Director of Faculty Development for the Humanities and as Vice Provost for Graduate Programs. She served as president of AATSEEL from 2000 to 2002.
- Ph.D. Russian Literature, Columbia University, 12/1978
- M.A. Russian Literature, Columbia University, 5/1975
- B.A. Russian Studies, Yale University, 5/1972
Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History
- Assisant/Associate/Full Professor, University of Southern California, 09/01/1980-
- Assistant Professor, Oberlin College, 09/01/1977-05/30/1980
- Pratt, S. (2000). Nikolai Zabolotsky: Enigma and Cultural Paradigm. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press.
- Pratt, S. (1984). Russian Metaphysical Romanticism: The Poetry of Tiutchev and Boratynskii. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
- Pratt, S. (1983). The Semantics of Chaos in Tjutcev. Munich: Sagner Verlag.
Honors and Awards
- USC Raubenheimer Outstanding Senior Faculty Award, 2007-2008
Service to the University
- Vice Provost for Graduate Programs, 2010-
- Director of Faculty Development for Humanities, 2008-