The Isenberg Award
The Isenberg Award for the Documentation of Languages of the Former Soviet Union is named for the late Charles R. Isenberg (1944-1997), a professor of Russian literature at Wesleyan University and Reed College. This award, given in years when a deserving and eligible proposal is received, honors projects focused on documentation and maintenance of languages spoken in the former Soviet Union.
Charles R. Isenberg (1944-1997) was a native of Rhode Island. A graduate of Columbia University with an MA and Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Harvard University, Prof. Isenberg taught at Wesleyan University before moving to Reed College in Portland, Oregon in 1985. A specialist in the prose of Osip Mandelstam, the frame narrative, Russian realism, modernism, and narrative theory, he was an active contributor to numerous professional journals and conferences, editor of the Tolstoy Society Journal, and author of Substantial Proofs of Being: Osip Mandelstam's Literary Prose (1987) and Telling Silence: Russian Frame Narratives of Renunciation (1993). At Reed, Professor Isenberg introduced a number of innovative courses, including: "The Russian Novella," "The Soviet Experience: Society, Literature, and Culture," "Tolstoy," "Gulag Narratives," "The Chronicle Novel," "East European Cinema," "Literature and Culture of Glasnost Era", and "Mandelstam," and distinguished himself by his unfailing grace, wide-ranging expertise, and intellectual curiosity. His generosity of spirit knew no bounds, and his gentle sense of humor was always in good supply. Outside the walls of academia, Professor Isenberg was a passionate skier and a masterful sailor who enjoyed nothing so much as tacking off the coast of Massachusetts. As part of his legacy to Reed, an exquisitely curated teaching library was left to the Russian House so that students might continue to learn and to expand their horizons even as they engage in silent dialogue with the great minds who authored the texts. The Charles Isenberg Collection is available to all students of Russian and is permanently housed in the Russian House, Woodstock I. In addition, the Charles Isenberg Memorial Collection of Russian and International Film is housed at the Reed College Library. Prof. Isenberg is survived by his wife, Rhea, currently a Professor at the Yale Child Study Center, and their children William, Martin, and Aviva.