Naomi Caffee, Managing Editor, University of California, Los Angeles

I welcome our readers to the sixth issue of the UC Undergraduate Journal of Slavic and East/Central European Studies. This year’s nine papers approach Slavic and East/Central European topics from a wide range of disciplines: literary studies, cultural studies, international law, criminology, history, and political science. Additionally, we are privileged to have the participation of undergraduate scholars from an ever-increasing range of institutions throughout the country, from Southern California to Oregon, Ohio, and Florida.

Several papers analyze and problematize the construction of the literary text – and in one case, the construction of the reader as well. Alan Sachnowski (New College of Florida) conducts a nuanced reading of Gogol’s The Overcoat informed by the works of Karl Marx and the Russian Formalist critic Boris Eikhenbaum. Todd Long (Portland State University) traces the interrelationship of poetic form and content in Aleksandr Blok’s epic poem of the Russian Revolution, The Twelve. Mika Kennedy (UCSD) interrogates Umberto Eco’s conceptions of hyperreality and authenticity in an analysis of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. Finally, William Forrest Holden (Portland State University) performs a close reading of a series of letters to the editor published in the Russian journal Literaturnaia gazeta in the 1960’s. By focusing on the journal’s representation of the Soviet reader, he uncovers the Soviet government’s subtle enforcement of gender conformity.

Three papers deal with the legal and political ramifications of post-communist transitions in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Polina Mareninova (UCLA) analyzes contemporary problems of the law and legal education in Russia, while also providing a historical overview of Russian legal systems dating back to Peter the Great. Sara Olson (Wake Forest University) draws our attention to the issue of lustration — the investigation and prosecution of abuses committed under communist regimes — and its function in East European countries’ transition to democracy. In her comparative study of elections in Kenya, Iran, and Georgia, Brittni Graham (Miami University, Ohio) concludes that the stability of the opposition is a key factor in the liberalization of an authoritarian regime.

Providing a salient counterpart to the papers on law and order are Sydney Heller (UCLA) and Derek Groom (UCLA), who turn their attention to the Russian criminal world. Heller’s report on Russian cybercrime examines Russian hackers’ crimes and skills, while also gauging the effectiveness of domestic and international efforts to combat them. Groom sheds light on the intricate symbolic system of Russian criminal tattoos, and expounds on the role of tattoos in upholding the strict social hierarchy of Russian prison life.

As always, the journal’s success depends on the tireless efforts of its contributing authors, editors, reviewers, and faculty mentors. I would like to thank Professor Roman Koropeckyj, Professor Olga Kagan, Susan Bauckus, Yelena Furman, and Armani Rosiles, as well as this year’s brilliant undergraduate editors, Anna Bar and Yelena Muratova. Finally, on behalf of the entire editorial board, I thank the Center for European and Eurasian Studies and the UCLA Office of the Dean of Humanities for their continued financial support.