Vital Statistics: I was born in Detroit, Michigan on May 15, 1929, and grew up in Watertown, MA, attending grade school and high school there. I am married to Julia Unverferth. We have three grown children and two grandchildren. My health is fair and my favorite sport is curling.
Education: I studied at Harvard College on scholarship and majored in Romance Languages. I also studied Russian and Serbo-Croatian, doing my honors thesis on a comparative French-Russian literary theme, “The Roman Russe of Melchior de Vogue”. After college, I spent a year of graduate study at the University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia (1951-52). When I returned to the U.S., I served two years in the US Army during the Korean War. I was assigned to the Pentagon, where I worked on the first comprehensive U.S. Army Glossary of Russian Military Terminology (800 pages). I was commended for this work and was offered a lieutenant’s commission, which I declined.
In 1954-55, I attended Harvard University, where I got a Master’s Degree in Slavic Languages and Literatures. Then, after a three-year hiatus in the business world—working for Polaroid Corporation--I returned to Harvard and got my Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures in 1963. In addition to the Slavic and Romance languages, I have also studied Latin and Greek (classical and modern), Old Irish, German, Urdu, and Tibetan. I took graduate Tibetan studies at Harvard for two years under Prof. Michael Aris.
Teaching Experience: I have taught at Tufts University (Asst. Professor), University of Wisconsin (tenured Assoc. Prof.), and Harvard University as teaching fellow, associate professor, and most recently as a visiting lecturer in Slavic languages and literatures. I served for several years as Assistant Director of the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature at Harvard. I have taught a variety of subjects, including Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, and Russian, as well as Comparative Slavic Linguistics.
Travel/Research/Lecturing: I have lived two years in the former Yugoslavia, first as a graduate student, and next as a Fulbright Senior Research Professor. I visited Bosnia in the summer of 2001, where I visited medieval graveyards and photographed outstanding gravestones, some of which may reflect Bogomil influence. I returned to Bosnia in the summer of 2002 with a group of college volunteers to do construction work ("Builders For Peace") in the town of Gracanica, near Tuzla. Since that time we have returned to Bosnia every summer for the past eight years, repairing structures damaged during the war and teaching English in local schools. I plan to return again to Bosnia in the summer of 2009.
I first visited Bulgaria in 1969, attending the annual Summer Seminar on the Bulgarian Language. After the seminar, I began to teach Bulgarian at the University of Wisconsin. In 1974, I organized the first International Conference on Bulgarian Studies. This conference, supported by IREX and ACLS, included forty American scholars and ten members of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. It helped break the ice between our two countries in the scholarly field. Recently I was the keynote speaker at the 30th anniversary of the Bulgarian Studies Association, which I helped found. I have also visited Russia, taking part in one of the first teacher-exchanges (1965), and also working as an interpreter for an American business..
While a fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford (1986-88), I organized the 1988 Wolfson Lecture Series on “Memory”. There were eight weekly lectures by various international scholars on the subject of “Cultural Memory”. I gave the opening paper (“Memory: A Mixed Blessing”) and edited the lectures for publication. I did research at the Bodleian Library, the University of London, and the Sorbonne for my bilingual anthology of Bulgarian texts, and gave two lectures at Oxford on the writings of Saints Cyril and Methodius. I conducted a tutorial at Oxford on the Montenegrin poet Njegos's "Luca Mikrokozma" (Ray of the Microcosm), and helped supervise a student who was doing her Master’s thesis on the Serbian poet Desanka Maksimovic. I also gave a lecture at the British Medieval Slavonic Society’s annual meeting in London (“St. Cyril’s Homily on the Translation of the Relics of St. Clement of Rome.”)
In February, 2000, I gave a lecture at Harvard’s Slavic Linguistics Colloquium on “A Comparison of Fourteenth and Seventeenth Century Bulgarian Manuscripts of Euthemius’s ‘Life of St. Petka’”. In the summer of 2000, in addition to the Sofia conference on “Globalization and Cultural Differences”, I lectured at Bratislava, Slovakia at a conference on the medieval Balkan heresy called “Bogomilism”.
Selected Publications (books): (1) Monumenta Bulgarica: A Bilingual Anthology of Bulgarian Texts from the Ninth to the Nineteenth Century (1996). (2) Memory: History, Culture, and the Mind, ed of The 1988 Wolfson College Lectures on Memory, which I organized. (1989).(3) Monumenta Serbocroatica: A Bilingual Anthology of Serbian and Croatian Texts from the Twelfth to the Nineteenth Century (1980). (4) Bulgaria Past and Present: Studies in History, Literature, Economics, Music, Sociology, Folklore and Linguistics, ed. Proceedings of the First International Conference on Bulgarian Studies in Madison, Wisconsin (1976). (5) The Origins of the War for a Serbian Language and Orthography, (a monograph) in Harvard Slavic Studies V, (1970).
Honors: National Defense Foreign Languages Fellow (Harvard, 1960-63). Senior Fulbright Research Professor, Belgrade, Yugoslavia (1967-68). National Endowment for the Humanities Award (1984) to prepare Monumenta Bulgarica. Grants from the American Council of Learned Societies and from the American Philosophical Society. In May, 2000, awarded the Ivan Vazov medal by the Agency for Bulgarians Abroad (Sofia) in recognition of “many years of work in the publication and popularization of Old Bulgarian Literature in the U.S. and throughout the world.” In May, 2001, received the Marin Drinov Medal of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Monumenta Serbocroatica was designated a “book of the year” (1980) by the American library journal “Quest”. Monumenta Bulgarica was given a “Special Book Prize” in 1998 by the Bulgarian Studies Association (US) for its “outstanding contribution to the field of Bulgarian studies as a whole.”