Maria Shardakova

Maria Shardakova

Associate Professor, Slavic and Eastern European Languages Cultures

Director, Russian Language Program


  • Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College, 2005

Research interests

Started out with research into second-language pragmatics, I have become more and more interested in spontaneous conversational humor and other forms of linguistic creativity. I have published several articles on second-language and cross-cultural humor, exploring connections between linguistic development and playful practices, as well as identity construction and the audience's perception of second-language humor and humorists. Currently, I am working on a book-length projected titled “No Laughing Matter: The Reinvention of Russia through Humor.”

Current projects: I am working on several teaching and pedagogy related projects. Two of them are collaborative initiatives supported by the IU Scholarship of Teaching and Learning grant and by the CIBER grant. For the first project, Sofiya Asher and I are developing online interactive assessment instruments for measuring learners’ progress in intermediate-level Russian courses. The second project is carried out under the auspices of the IU Center for Language Excellence and in collaboration with the Kelley School of Business. The goal of this project is to formulate guidelines for teaching business across the foreign language curriculum. Also as a part of my work with the IU Center for Language Excellence, I am developing a series of workshops on pedagogy, assessment, and research.

Professional Experience

  • Elementary Russian
  • Intermediate Russian
  • Advanced Intermediate Russian
  • Language of Modernism
  • Second language teaching methods
  • Contemporary Russian culture
  • Using Canvas to create assessment activities
  • Assessing students’ oral proficiency in the classroom and beyond
  • Connecting research and foreign language classroom
  • Assessing learners’ sociocultural proficiency

Representative publications

American Learners’ Comprehension of Russian Textual Humor (2016)
Modern Language Journal, 100 (2),

Cross-cultural analysis of the use of humor by Russian and American English speakers (2012)
M. Shardakova