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Dr. Zotova began her linguistic education in Luhansk, Ukraine (former USSR), as a Philology major with a focus on Russian (occasionally, Ukrainian) folklore, and spent a summer month of 1993 in the village of Bulanovo, Rostov region, collecting dialect samples. Resuming her studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2001, she majored in Russian literature, while simultaneously taking courses in linguistics and teaching methodology. Yelena attended numerous teacher’s workshops on second language acquisition and bilingualism and holds a full certificate as an Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) tester in Russian.
Between 2001 and 2012, Yelena taught all levels of Russian, from beginners to advanced, as well as courses for heritage speakers, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. There she also taught undergraduate courses on the nineteenth and twentieth century Russian literature, a course on Russian and European Avant-garde, and an introductory course on Soviet cinema.
She taught ESL (English as a Second Language) courses at the City Colleges of Chicago in 2006.
Yelena has taught Russian grammar at the Indiana University intensive summer language workshop, SWSEEL, since 2010, where she has also organized (or revived) a student theater and directed five plays based on the works of Russian Modernist and émigré authors. One of them, The Dragon (1944) by Yevgeniy Shvarts, was also staged at Penn State in 2017.
Dr. Zotova is the author of Wingless Desire in Modernist Russia: Envy and Authorship in the 1920s. Lanham: Lexington, 2021. Her scholarly interests include Mikhail Bakhtin’s early theory of ethics and aesthetics, Russian Modernist poetry and prose, problems of identity, bilingualism, and literary translation. She has presented papers at various Slavic conferences and annual conventions in the U.S. and in Moscow and published selections of her poetry (in Russian) in Kyiv, Ukraine, and in the New-York-based International Poetry Journal Interpoezia.