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Professor scores award for Slavic studies book

Matthew Romaniello, an assistant professor of History at Weber State University, specializes in Russian history and literature and in Eastern Europe. His new book, “Enterprising Empires: Russia and Britain in Eighteenth-Century Eurasia,” won the 2019 Early Slavic Studies Association Book Prize in November 2019, helping cement Romaniello as an expert in his field.

Matthew Romaniello specializes in Russian history and won the 2019 Early Slavic Studies Association Book Prize in November 2019. (Weber State University Archive)

The ESSA works at fostering scholarly communication for those in the field of early Slavic studies, and awards both a book prize and an article prize annually.

Romaniello was also appointed to the “Journal of World History” and has taken over as editor-in-chief. Romaniello was also an associate editor for the journal several years ago.

His fascination with the field of Slavic studies began when he started reading about Leo Tolstoy.

“Back in high school, I was given this assignment in 10th grade, where we had to write a biography of a 19th century figure, and I decided, for no good reason, to write about Leo Tolstoy,” Romaniello said.

His interests in Russian history and literature grew after reading Leo Tolstoy’s writings. Although he wasn’t sure about history at first, he decided to pursue history as a career while he was attending Brown University for undergraduate studies. He graduated in 1995 with a BA in History.

“When I got to college, I was originally in engineering and was taking a minor in Russian literature, and then when I decided I didn’t want to do engineering, I ended up in history,” Romaniello said.

His interest in Russia was also due to the current events of the time. In 1991, the Cold War had just ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the collapse and the aftermath was a large part of the national conversation.

Romaniello also became interested in Medieval Europe after taking courses from a historian and decided that he wanted to study early Russia in the medieval period.

While attending graduate school at Ohio State University, he learned French as well, which he found much easier to learn than Russian.

Becoming a professor and going into teaching was something that Romaniello wanted to make sure was for him.

“When I went to graduate school I wasn’t really sure, so one of the things I chose to do was go to a program that let me teach right away. I wanted to figure out if I would enjoy being in the classroom,” Romaniello said.

He enjoyed his start in teaching at Ohio State, as they allow prospective teachers and professors to grow and learn in different ways.

“I lived in Russia for over a year, when I was researching my dissertation, which became my first book. During my second book, I worked in London and Edinburgh,” Romaniello said.

Romaniello has taught at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Hamilton College in New York.

While in his last year at Hawaii, he had a fellowship at the University of Utah and saw a job opportunity at Weber State and decided to come to Ogden.

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