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Constantine Pleshakov

Visiting Assistant Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies and Critical Social Thought


From the Princeton Review:

Constantine Pleshakov is a self-described “academic nomad.” He studied at Moscow State University and the National University of Singapore, and since then he has held a slew of positions in the United States and abroad, including a stint at Amherst College. He is currently a professor of Russian and Eurasian studies and critical social thought at Mount Holyoke College, a small, historically women’s school in Massachusetts. He is also a prolific fiction writer and the author of several books concerning Russia.


Students tell us that it takes no time at all to discern that Pleshakov is “clearly super brilliant”—an “entertaining, insightful, just overall an amazing professor.” “Lectures are engaging.” “He makes even the most boring and bland things interesting.” He is “easily one of the best professors” at Mount Holyoke and, at least according to one student, no less than “the coolest man in the world.” “I think it should be a requirement to take a class by Pleshakov to graduate,” pronounces one student. “He’s hilarious, engaging, very respectful, and loves hearing what students have to say.”


Pleshakov is pretty circumspect about all this praise. While students say “he will give you priceless life lessons out of the blue,” for example, Pleshakov is far more modest. “I am not sure there is such a thing as a master key to living,” he reflects. “I try giving career advice.” “Keeping up the dialogue in the classroom is the most challenging thing I know,” he says. “It’s not about taking questions and asking questions. It’s more about the state of mind and mood of the audience and you reacting to it. Theater actors call this paradigm a ‘magic orb.’” “It is essential to have a Plan B,” he adds, in what turns out to be a pretty good life lesson for teachers everywhere. “Sometimes a neatly structured lecture turns into a complete disaster. The more you struggle to repair it, the worse it gets, so it’s best to abandon the losing strategy and switch to the alternative. The most horrible thing, of course, is when the Plan B fails to work.”

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Taken on March 25, 2012