We are deeply saddened that our PhD student, colleague, and friend, Laura Isakov, died suddenly on 19 November 2020.
Laura became interested in German language and literature as a way of connecting with her German heritage and family history. After pursuing studies in Electrical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, she received a BA Advanced Degree in History with a Minor in German Language and Literature from the University of Manitoba in 2005. In 2013 became certified as a College Reading and Learning Association Master Tutor through her work at the Douglas College Learning Centre. She continued her studies with coursework in History and German Studies at UBC and decided to enter the MA program in CENES in 2014.
Laura received an MA in Germanic Studies from UBC in August 2016. Her thesis, “Intelligent Weiblichkeit: The Correspondence of Charlotte Schiller and Henry Heron,” examined issues of gender and epistolary culture during the period 1780-1810 and represents the first scholarly analysis of Schiller’s novel Wallberg. Laura’s work on the topic emerged from archival research in the Goethe and Schiller Archive in Weimar and her experience as a Research Assistant for Dr. Gaby Pailer. She also collaborated on several new editions of women’s dramatic works: Sophie Albrecht’s Theresgen (Wehrhahn Verlag, 2016) and Charlotte von Stein’s Die zwey Emilien (Wehrhahn Verlag, 2020). She began translating Charlotte von Stein’s Dido into English, which will appear in a bilingual edition of the work in 2021.
Laura entered the CENES PhD program in Germanic Studies in the fall of 2016. She was interested in pursuing a project that united her interdisciplinary interests in history, science, ethics, and media. During the summer of 2020, she was preparing for her candidacy examination under the supervision of Drs. Kyle Frackman, Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, and Katherine Bowers. She was also developing a proposal about treason narratives in German literature and film, 1945-2000, with a focus on the intersections of identity, agency, individuality, and control. She presented initial work on the project at a departmental graduate colloquium in March 2018 as well as the annual conference of the Canadian Association of University Teachers of German in 2019. A scholarly article related to the project, “Vertrauensbruch: Maria Stuart, Schiller und Zweig,” is forthcoming in the volume The Queen’s Two Bodies, a special edition of Jahrbuch für internationale Germanistik, in 2021.
Laura was a dedicated teacher whose enthusiasm for her material was infectious. In CENES she worked as a Teaching Assistant for courses in German literature and culture as well as Russian literature and culture. She had worked for several years as a Writing Tutor at Douglas College before coming to CENES and used the skills she developed there to help CENES students improve their writing. Laura was actively involved as a Research Experience Mentor for undergraduate humanities students participating in the Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference at UBC. She was also a member of the 2019-20 cohort for the UBC Certificate Program in Advanced Learning and Teaching.
Laura was an active, generous, and energetic colleague. Over the course of her time in CENES, she worked on undergraduate programming, coordinating monthly Tatort screenings from 2018-20 so students could practice their German comprehension. She also co-organized the 2017 CENES Graduate Student conference. Laura chose her service work with an eye to benefitting the department and university community. She co-founded the UBC Orthodox Christian Fellowship student group. In addition to serving as a representative for the grad students in CENES from 2016-18, she served as CENES department representative to CUPE 2278 from 2014-18 and was a union trustee from 2015-16. Most recently, from 2018-20, she served as a graduate representative on the search committee that helped select our new Department Head.
We remember Laura’s great intellectual curiosity about almost every topic. She rarely missed a department talk. We remember her warm generosity of spirit and skill as a good listener. She helped forge a sense of community through her kindness, service, and presence in the department. Laura will be missed by all of us.