Beth Holmgren Graduate Student Essay Prize

2013 Citation Recipient

Yulia Mikhailova

The Beth Holmgren Graduate Student Essay Prize, established in 1990 and named in honor of Professor Holmgren in 2021, is awarded for an outstanding essay by a graduate student in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.

Winner: Yulia Mikhailova, UNiversity of New Mexico
Title: “’Christians and Pagans’ in the Chronicles of Pre-Mongolian Rus: Beyond the Dichotomy of ‘Good Us’ and “Bad Them’”

The winner of the 2013 ASEEES Graduate Student Essay Prize is Yulia Mikhailova, a doctoral student from the University of New Mexico. Her essay, “‘Christians and Pagans’ in the Chronicles of Pre-Mongolian Rus: Beyond the Dichotomy of ‘Good Us’ and ‘Bad Them,’” is a contribution to the volume Source Studies for Slavia Asiatica, forthcoming in Leipzig University Press and edited by Wolfram von Scheliha. This original, carefully researched, and compellingly argued paper draws on rich material, examines cultural paradigms, and moves beyond accepted binary oppositions. The author effectively questions the existing interpretations and assumptions about the ways in which the Primary Chronicles depict such groups as nomads and pagans in Kievan Rus’. She succeeds at presenting her analysis and interpretation to both specialists in Kievan Rus’ history and the wider audiences of ASEEES. She also does an excellent job of contrasting her approach to what appears to be the two reigning interpretations (as represented in the essay by Solov’ev and Curta) of the paper’s main questions, presenting an original and insightful reinterpretation of these texts to show the complex range of representations of peoples such as the Cumans and Black Caps. The author’s attention to the historiography demonstrates expert knowledge of the field, and she provides very useful background and theoretical information on such topics as “monsters” in the medieval imagination. Overall, Mikhailova’s stimulating discussion promises to help reshape how scholars understand these aspects of the Primary Chronicles and teach it to their students.