I am pleased to present to our readers the tenth issue of the UC Undergraduate Journal of Slavic and East/Central European Studies. This year’s nine papers by ten talented young scholars offer an interdisciplinary approach to a wide array of Slavic and East/Central European topics extending from the Middle Ages through the present day, from the drawing rooms of Russian society women to the Jewish delis of our émigré neighbors in West Hollywood.

In the field of gender studies, a collaboration between Ravital Goldgof and Lily Shelton (FSU) examines the roles and agency of women in the Byzantine romantic epic Digenis Akritis and its Greek and South Slavic analogues, while Luke Jeske (UF) illuminates the invaluable cultural contributions of nineteenth-century Russian literary salon hostesses and the societal limits imposed upon those women who strove to forge their own creative paths.

In two papers that have grown even more relevant since their composition last year, Nicole Tom (UCLA) assesses the threat Russia currently poses to the United States in comparison to that of the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, and Gulnar Tlegenova (UCLA) analyzes and contextualizes President Vladimir Putin’s perpetually high approval ratings among Russians. Joshua Kroeker’s (UBC) paper scrutinizes the economic conditions from which the current state of Russian politics developed, arguing that neoliberal reforms following the Soviet Union’s collapse unwittingly fostered Putin’s authoritarianism.

Two other papers reevaluate the careers and legacies of outstanding twentieth-century artists. Alexandra Whittaker (CCNY) makes the case for Josef Sudek, arguably Czechoslovakia’s most famous photographer, as a shrewd ideological strategist often at odds with his reputation as an apolitical dreamer divorced from the communist reality of his age. Anastasia Golubeva (NRU HSE) elucidates the nuances of Russian avant-garde artist Ivan Puni’s leftist politics vis-à-vis his illustrations for Vladimir Mayakovsky’s book Heroes and Victims of the Revolution.

Svitlana Iukhymovich’s (HURI) linguistic study examines the challenges of articulating the emotional process of empathy in the Ukrainian language and concurrently historicizes various extant verbalizations of empathy within the context of Ukrainian nationhood. Lastly, Dante Matero (UCLA) turns his attention to West Hollywood’s formerly thriving Russian-Jewish immigrant enclave, whose population and culture is rapidly diminishing as a result of gentrification. Through direct engagement with local residents and policy makers, he not only assesses the issue but also determines various steps toward revitalizing the community.

The continued success of this journal would not be possible without the tireless guidance of its editor-in-chief, Professor Roman Koropeckyj. I would also like to thank our online editor Susan Bauckus and Heleana Melendez, both of the Center for World Languages, Justin Hong of the International Institute, UCLA undergraduate advisors Professor Olga Kagan and Yelena Furman, and my esteemed editorial board.