Dr. Benjamin Jens received his Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is happy to return to the Dept. of Russian and Slavic Studies at the University of Arizona, having held a visitingposition here from 2012-2014. He has previously taught Russian language, literature, and culture courses at The College of New Jersey and the University of Vermont. Dr. Jens's main area of research is the use of silence as a modeof communication in 19th-century Russian literature; he also has research interests in Russian and East European cinema, Eastern Orthodoxy, and cultural ties between the Western Balkans and Russia.
Assistant Professor, Russian / Slavic Studies
Introduction to cinema for Eastern Europe and Russia from the end of the 19th century to the present with a focus on how film presents social problems and historical events.
The course will examine supernatural figures who find their folkloric and historical origins in the Slavic and East European tradition. Through legends, chronicles, novels, films, and music, the course will consider how and why these creatures come to reflect contemporary fears.
This course focuses on the history and doctrine of Eastern Christianity from its origins in the early Church through today, emphasizing the cultural manifestations of Orthodox doctrine: liturgy, iconography, pious practice. We will compare Eastern Orthodoxy to Western Christianity (Catholicism and Protestantism), and will examine various different national Churches within Eastern Orthodoxy (i.e., Byzantine, Bulgarian, Serbian, Modern Greek, the older "Oriental" Churches, etc.), with a primary focus on Russia. Eastern Orthodox Christianity is often perceived as being one of the more 'mystical' of Christian traditions, and we will explore the Orthodox vision of 'the mystical life', examining its basis in history and contemporary experience. We will also ask about the significance of Church doctrine and practice for the development of culture as a whole in the areas of the world in which Eastern Christianity predominates, and the ways in which that culture both differs from and relates to what we (perhaps inaccurately) call "Western" civilization. In general, Orthodox practice relies heavily on the senses, and the course is designed to be experiential. To that end, we will make at least one field trip to a local Orthodox Church during the course of the semester.