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Professor, alumna team up for new Russian textbook

September 19, 2013

Donna Oliver

Russian Professor Donna Oliver never intended to publish her first-year Russian textbook, but, with the assistance of an alumna, Russian Full Circle was released by Yale University Press in late August.

Lacking satisfaction in most other Russian textbooks, Oliver originally wrote the book in 1991. She subsequently printed up spiral-bound copies of the book and went on to use it in her first-year Russian classes for the next 20 years.

In 2007, however, Edie Furniss’07 proposed transferring the information from a Word document into a publishing program and revising parts of it as a summer project.

A few years later, as a graduate student in Penn State’s Ph.D. program in applied linguistics, Furniss met the languages editor at Yale University Press, who expressed interest in publishing a Russian textbook. Furniss (also an instructor in Beloit’s CLS summer language program and a former Fulbright scholar) flew back to Beloit for a long weekend, during which she and Oliver revised the first four chapters to submit as a sample.  

They received a book contract, and the two spent the last couple of years revising it with new exercises, dialogues, and reading texts as well as reformatting it. They also created a companion website at (Julian Vanecek’16 has also contributed significantly to the website as a Sanger Scholar, Oliver added.)

“It was fun to work with (Edie) and to get her perspective. She brought to it a contemporary perspective on second language acquisition,” Oliver said. “It’s great for Edie because she’s still in the Ph.D. program, and she already has a publication under her belt.”

For more information on Russian Full Circle, click here.