Sibelan Forrester

Immediate Past President 2022

Susan W. Lippincott Professor of Modern and Classical Languages and Russian, Swarthmore College

Sibelan Forrester is the Susan W. Lippincott Professor of Modern and Classical Languages and Russian at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Her academic background includes a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College (1983) and MA (1985) and PhD (1990) from Indiana University. She spent an exchange year in Zagreb in 1986-87, taught at Oberlin College from 1989 to 1994, and has taught Russian language and literature at Swarthmore since 1994.

Forrester’s primary academic specialty is Russian poetry of the 20th and 21st centuries, with significant secondary specializations in folklore, South Slavic literature and culture, and women’s and gender studies; she also does teaching and research in science fiction and literary translation (theory and practice). She has published translations of fiction, poetry, scholarly prose and songs from Croatian, Russian and Serbian, and original poetry (in English).

Forrester’s publications include three co-edited volumes, Engendering Slavic Literatures (1996), Over the Wall/After the Fall: Post-Communist Cultures in an East-West Gaze (2004), and Russian Silver Age Poetry: Texts and Contexts (2015), and her edited volume, Marina Cvetaeva: Approaches to a Major Russian Poet (2016). Her prize-winning translation of Vladimir Propp’s Russian Folktale appeared in 2012, her translations and introduction to Baba Yaga: The Wild Witch of the East in Russian Fairy Tales in 2013, and her translation from Serbian of Milica Mićić Dimovska’s novel The Cataract in 2016. Co-edited volume Times of Mobility: Transnational Literature and Gender in Translation comes out this year from Central European University Press. Some of her recently published articles examine Whitman in Russian, translations of Russian and East European science fiction, Anglophone translation of women’s writing from Croatia and Serbia, contesting norms of translating Russian poetry into English, and impressions of Baba Yaga on Soviet and American television. She has published articles in Poland, Russia and Serbia as well as in North American journals such as Marvels and Tales, Russian Review, Serbian Studies, Slavic and East European Journal, and Slavic Review.

Forrester has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Social Science Research Council; her translations have won the Heldt Prize twice for Best Translation in Russian, East European and Eurasian Women’s Studies and the AATSEEL Award for Best Scholarly Translation.

Forrester has served as President of the Executive Council of the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages (in the MLA), President of AATSEEL, President of SEEFA, President of AWSS; she has served twice on the ASEEES (or AAASS) convention program committee plus several years on the AATSEEL and ALTA conference program committees. She was chair of Swarthmore’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures 2008-2012, has chaired Swarthmore’s Comparative Literature committee more than once, and in fall of 2019 became Coordinator of Swarthmore’s Program in Interpretation Theory. She is the current editor of the journal Russian Studies in Literature and is on the editorial board of the Slavic and East European Journal. Forrester has three grown children and lives outside Philadelphia.