Mari Firkatian, associate professor of history at the University of Hartford, has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholar grant to conduct research and to lecture at Sofia University, the oldest higher education institution in Bulgaria.
"The Fulbright Scholar Program is the gold standard in the academic world," said David H. Goldenberg, dean of Hillyer College at the University of Hartford. "We are most proud of the international recognition that comes to Dr. Firkatian, Hillyer College, and the University of Hartford."
Firkatian, who lives in Bloomfield, will spend the spring semester (January through June, 2011) at Sofia teaching a course titled Cold War in American Popular Culture: How an "Evil Empire" Was Conquered by a Crumbling "Iron Curtain" and "Star Wars" Technology. Using film and other visual media, the course will explore "how the Cold War was presented to the American public in order to keep foreign policy tensions at their peak," Firkatian says.
She also plans to research and publish an annotated guide of documents found in Bulgarian archives that are by or about Armenians.
Firkatian specializes in East European history (19th and 20th centuries) and Russian/Soviet foreign policy. She has been teaching at the University of Hartford since 2001, receiving tenure and a promotion in 2007. Before the University of Hartford, she taught at Auburn University in Alabama and at American University in Bulgaria. She holds a PhD in history from Indiana University, a master's in Slavic languages from Indiana, bachelor degrees in Russian language and French language from the University of Connecticut, and a bachelor's in French studies from Université de Rouen, France.
Born in Bulgaria to Armenian parents, Firkatian moved to the United States at the age of 10. She is fluent in Armenian, Bulgarian, French, Polish, and Russian. As a well-traveled researcher, Firkatian has lived in many European countries and has spent extended periods of time in the former Soviet Union and eastern bloc countries.
In 2008 the University Press of America published her book Diplomats and Dreamers: The Stanicoff Family in Bulgarian History. In 2009 Paradigma Press published an expanded and revised Bulgarian edition: Diplomati Mechtateli Patrioti Bulgaria prez pogleda na semeistvo Stanchovi.
The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program is one of the most prestigious award programs in the world.
Scholars are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential through an annual competition. The program provides awards yearly to approximately 1,100 U.S. scholars and professionals in a variety of academic disciplines in more than 125 countries. Sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by Senator. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas.