Professor of Russian shares spiritual journey

Bates College Professor Jane Costlow, a specialist in Russian literature and culture who travels frequently to Russia, will speak at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, at 161 Wood St., as part of Spiritual Sojourners, a series sponsored by the Office of the Chaplain at Bates College. The public is invited to attend free of charge. For more information, call the chaplain’s office at 207-786-8272.

Costlow was born and grew up on the coast of North Carolina, she says, “which means my first landscape was the ocean, that wonderful full emptiness of sounds and smells and endless horizon.”

The daughter of biologists, Costlow became an Episcopalian and grew interested in Russia. These experiences, she says, “contributed in some complicated way to where I am now.”

“My first ‘memory’ of Russia is of lying in bed at night imagining the plane in the distance was the Russians coming to get us. Must have been 1962, and the Cuban Missile Crisis,” Costlow recalls. “Years later I spent an academic year in what was still Leningrad. I learned Russian. Demonstrated against nuclear weapons. Worked in a soup kitchen. Wondered if I really wanted to be an academic.”

After coming to Bates, marrying and having children, Costlow and her family settled in Auburn. “From where I live,” she says, “you can see out over the Androscoggin towards Lewiston and Bates. The steeple of Trinity Episcopal Church is just visible, and the amazing skies roll in from Canada. I’m ‘living in the question’ — with deep gratitude for languages and landscapes.”

Each speaker in this series has a story to tell, says its organizer Bates College Chaplain Bill Blaine-Wallace. The speaker’s personal sojourns serve as “starter dough” for conversation, Blaine-Wallace says.

Costlow’s talk, the fifth in the series, will be followed by three additional 90-minute presentations throughout the balance of the academic year. Each talk begins at 4:30 p.m.

View Comments