Current Visiting Scholar 2019-20 in the U.S. Alexander Zhidchenko, Candidate in History, has shared his impressions about the University of Kansas as well as updates on his research about popular culture and daily life in new planned U.S. cities in the 1950s and 1960s.
"The state motto of Kansas is "Ad Astra per Aspera", which becomes evident in the University of Kansas (KU) in Lawrence. Study rooms, lecture halls, libraries, even entrance steps to the buildings are seething with talented and resourceful students qho work hard to achieve their dreams. Unlike the neighboring Kansas City, life in quiet Lawrence is perfect for those who want to focus on academic endeavors. There are more than 27000 students and 2500 faculty in the University of Kansas (KU). A fantastic team I was honored to join! After picking me up at the airport, professor Eve Levin from the Department of History showed me around the campus. Most buildings here date back to late XIX and early XX centuries; many resemble old European town halls.
"For the scientific part of the project I have already studied a volume of literature about American everyday life, been through collections of 11 museums and documented memories of 20 Americans that lived in new cities in the U.S. in the 1950s. I am still actively searching for new historical sources (periodicals, published memoirs, photos and videos) and analyzing more literature. In January 2020 I will be working in the archives, as well as taking short 2-3 days trips to other cities that may be interesting within the project's objectives. My colleagues support me in all respects: they invite me along to scientific gatherings and seminars and help me plan a few engagements to report the interim and then final results of my work."
"Apart from work, I eagerly take part in cultural exchange at the university, helping to organize weekly meetings of the "Russian Club" where I talk about Russian history, culture and traditions. I also showed the participants our very beloved Soviet film "Ivan Vasilyevich Changes Profession" with English subtitles, as well as took part in the cultural fair representing Fulbright Russia."
Photos by A. Zhidchenko