Letter From The Chair

Submitted by Anna Grace Kleven on

Are we back to normal yet? It is starting to seem like it. We witnessed the cherry blossoms in front of Raitt Hall and welcomed the beginning of spring quarter, which brings with it in-person classes and meetings which we have missed during the last years, including conferences and our graduation celebration.  

Department faculty are looking forward to two exciting in-person conferences this spring. The Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies is holding its annual conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, focusing on the presidential theme of colonialism. St Barth’s was a Swedish colony (1784-1878) and the Danish West Indies (known today as the U.S. Virgin Islands) existed from 1672 until 1905 in various configurations. These colonies and Scandinavian shippers were also involved in the transatlantic trade of enslaved people. The conference seeks to examine this history and its postcolonial legacy.  

The second conference is the annual meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies on campus at the UW and its chief organizer is our very own Professor Guntis Šmidchens. The dates are May 26-29, and the title is “Baltic Studies at a Crossroads”. The conference draws on partnership with Pacific Northwest Baltics communities to offer a first-class event. Recent history and current events raise questions about the course for the Baltics, following their pivot to the European Union and NATO coupled with the reassertion of Russian imperialism. “The conference will showcase the latest cutting-edge Baltic research and highlight connections to local diaspora and the tech industry in the Pacific Northwest.”  

Our return to in-person teaching in February 2022 came after a month of online teaching in January. The UW announced that with the beginning of spring quarter, masks would be strongly recommended but not required. So now we are back to in-person teaching and activity with many but not all masking.  


With the UW back to in-person classes, it will be possible to hold our in-person graduation celebration in June. The event is an opportunity to come together and celebrate the success of our students, while sending them off to further successes. We have missed this event so much the last years, as have our graduating majors. We look forward to celebrating this year!