AUGUSTA — Robert Kellerman, an associate professor of English at the University of Maine at Augusta, will be keeping office hours in an entirely different time zone next spring.

He’ll be spending the semester at Daugavpils University in Latvia on a Fulbright fellowship.

Plans for what he’ll be teaching are not yet final, but he expects he may teach an English and American survey course, a Shakespeare course and a course in American ethnic and immigrant literature in the university’s Department of English Philology, which has a linguistics program with a literature component. Philology is the study of languages, particularly how they develop.

“It will depend on departmental needs,” Kellerman said. “And what we agree to and what actually happens may be two different things.”

Daugavpils, in eastern Latvia, is a cultural center in the Baltic region and is not far from Russia.

The university has a Russian program, an English program and a Latvian program. Kellerman said he’ll be teaching his courses in English, but he expects to learn some Latvian while he’s there.

“I had expected a lot of people would speak English, but that’s not really the case,” he said.

When the Baltic countries were under Soviet rule, the Soviet government relocated Russians to the region in an attempt to Russify the region, assimilating it to Russian culture and language. Kellerman said although the Baltics are now aligned with the European Union, a sizable minority of people in Latvia still speak only Russian, and many Latvians don’t actually speak their native language.

“Latvian is an indo-European independent branch of language. It’s not a Slavic language, although it’s related to them, and it’s not a Scandinavian language, although it’s related to them,” he said.

Now, English is becoming the language of international business, he said, driving the interest in the language.

Kellerman has been a faculty member at UMA since 2006. He teaches medieval English literature, Shakespeare, history of the English language and an introduction to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies, part of UMA’s Women’s and Gender Studies minority.

He said he was inspired to undertake the lengthy process of applying for a Fulbright fellowship by two of his colleagues in the English Department who completed Fulbright fellowships in Slovenia. UMA hosted Fulbright fellow Mojca Krevel from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia in the spring of 2014. Krevel taught a course in postmodern fiction.

The goal of the program, which is underwritten by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, is to establish relationships. While Kellerman will represent UMA, he’ll also be representing the American government.

Kellerman said he’ll travel to Latvia in January for the spring semester, which runs from February to June. While Latvia is north of Maine, the weather is moderated by the Baltic Sea.

“I expect it will be a lot like Maine,” he said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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