With great sadness, the REEI community bids farewell to Professor Emerita Nina Perlina (IU Slavic Dept), who passed away on Friday, May 24, 2019 due to complications after a heart operation. A prolific, engaged, and generous REEI affiliate throughout her many years of service at IU, Nina had wide-ranging expertise in Russian literature, which she taught at IU and other institutions. Born in Leningrad in 1939, she survived the Siege of Leningrad as a young child. A graduate of the Herzen Pedagogical Institute, she assisted in preparation of Dostoevsky’s complete works, published between 1972 and 1990, and played an active role in the establishment of the Dostoevsky Literary Memorial Museum, where she worked until 1974, the year of her emigration to the United States. She earned a PhD at Brown University and taught Russian literature at Macalaster College and Rutgers University before joining the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at IU in 1986. A world-renowned Dostoevsky specialist, Professor Perlina authored numerous articles and several books: : Varieties of Poetic Utterance: Quotations in “The Brothers Karamazov” (University Press of America, 1985), Olga Freidenberg’s Works and Days (Slavica, 2002), with co-author Cynthia Simmons Writing the Siege of Leningrad: Women's Diaries, Memoirs, and Documentary Prose (U of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), and Picture-texts and Ekphrasis in Dostoevsky’s ‘The Idiot ' (in Russian: Aletaiia, 2017). In 2012 Slavica published From Petersburg to Bloomington : Essays in Honor of Nina Perlina, a festschrift edited by John Bartle, Michael C. Finke, and Vadim Liapunov. An active scholar and REEI community member throughout her retirement, Professor Perlina frequently attended REEI talks and events, especially the Russian-language lecture series "About Russia in Russian," in which she participated as both a featured speaker and receptive listener who always engaged with other speakers in enlightening Q&A.
On October 13, friends and colleagues of Nina, many having flown in from afar, gathered in the atrium of the Global and International Studies Building to celebrate her memory. “I knew her as a person with an outsized warm heart, and as it turned out eventually, a heart with an unexpected weakness that betrayed her,” recalled Associate Professor George Fowler, Chair of the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures Fowler. “She had a unique, своеобразный, otherworldly way of asking a question at a lecture or dissertation defense, sometimes taking a winding path but arriving at an incisive and often unforeseen point that would turn out to be highly significant for her interlocutor.” Nina’s co-author Cynthia Simmons, a professor emerita at Boston College, extolled her as “a kind, generous, and courageous woman, who lived by principal and philosophy,” while former student Stu Mackenzie, now at George Mason University, recalled “a person who invested deeply in her students, pushed them to grow and be better people.”
Following the formal program of encomia, those assembled continued to reminisce over a light lunch punctuated by toasts in Nina’s memory.
May her soul rest in peace.