Doctor John Pendergast official photo with flag

Dr. John Pendergast

Program Director of Russian

Associate Professor of Russian


Dr. John Pendergast entered the Army Reserve as a private in 1981, playing tuba in the 313th Army Reserve Band in Hoover, Alabama and earning a B.A. cum laude in Music from Birmingham-Southern College in 1985. He entered the Active Army in 1986 and graduated from the Defense Language Institute with Honors in Russian in 1987. After serving as an interpreter in Europe under the protocols of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces and Conventional Armed Forces treaties, he completed Officer Candidate School and was commissioned a Military Intelligence (MI) lieutenant in 1993. He led a platoon, served as primary battalion staff, watch officer, and commanded a company in MI tours in Korea and Ft Gordon, Georgia. He was selected for Advanced Civil Schooling by West Point and, after completing his MA in Russian Language and Literature at the University of Arizona in 2002, taught Russian in DFL for four years, earning the rank of Assistant Professor. He served as an ARCENT project manager in Kuwait and Iraq from 2006-2007. Upon retirement at the rank of Major in 2008, he was selected for the program in Comparative Literature as a Chancellor’s Fellow at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, earning both an MPhil and PhD by 2015. Since 2008, he has taught Russian and German in DFL as a civilian. He became the Head Department Academic Counselor in 2016 and the Russian Program Director in 2019.

Dr. Pendergast lives with his husband João in Highland Falls, NY and enjoys spending time with his grown daughters Natalya and Alexandra, who live in Tampa, FL and Troy, NY.

Publications & Presentations


Joan of Arc on the Stage and Her Sisters in Sublime Sanctity. London: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2019


With Sherry Maggin and Julia Praud, “Enhancing the Foreign Language Classroom through Experiential Learning: Connecting and Reflecting” Teaching and Learning the West Point Way, Routledge, May 2021

“The Patriotic Elegy: Myth and Orthodoxy in Zhukovsky’s Maid of Orleans.” Mythological Tragedy in Russia and Eastern Europe: Performance, Translation, and Ideology. Ed. Zara Torlone. New York: Oxford University Press, accepted as part of forthcoming book proposal.

Articles in Refereed Journals

“The Maid of the Highlands: Joan of Arc Reflected in West Point Iconography.” Hudson River Valley Review 35.1, Fall 2018.

“Bulgakov and Tchaikovsky: Themes and Variations.” Slavjanskie chteniya [Slavic Readings] XII, Spring 2018.

“The Patriotic Elegy: Zhukovsky’s Орлеанская дева” Slavjanskie chteniya [Slavic Readings] XI, Spring 2016.

Book Reviews
Kevin Bartig’s Sergei Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky in Slavic and East European Journal 62.4, Winter 2018.

The Tchaikovsky Papers: Unlocking the Family Archive. Marina Kostalevsky ed., Stephen Pearl trans. in Slavic and East European Journal 63.2, Summer 2019.

International Refereed Presentations

“Bulgakov and Tchaikovsky” 11th International Slavic Readings Conference, Daugavpils University, Latvia, (by VTC), May 2016.

“Johann and Johanna through a Glass Daemonically: Goethe’s Faust and Schiller’s Jungfrau as Reflections of their Authors’ Unique Relationship” Congress of the Canadian Association of University Teachers of German, Montreal, Quebec, May 2010.

Refereed Presentation

“How Schiller Saved Joan of Arc with Alternative Facts (and Mythology).” Critical Theory Conference “Fictions of History,” Graduate Center of the City of New York, NY, May 2017.

Invited Presentation

“Nowruz/Navruz as a Primer in Central Asian History and Culture.” Jointly with Dr. Amir Irani-Tehrani. Harriman Institute at Columbia University, New York, NY, March 2019.

Regional Presentations

“Schiller’s Jungfrau and Sublime Nationalism.” Northeast Modern Language Association. Hartford, CT. 2016.

With Jones-Kellogg, Rebecca, Sarah Martin, and Sherry Venere. “Oral Proficiencies across Language Families in L2 Classroom.” Northeast Modern Language Association. Hartford, CT. 2016

“‘Discharges of Passion:’ Illness and Creativity in Pasternak and Goethe.” Mid-Atlantic Slavic Conference. Brooklyn, NY. April 2011.

“‘Feint’ Praise in Pasternak and Pushkin.” Critical Theory Conference, “Irony,” Graduate Center of the City of New York, NY. February 2011

“Not Just the Same Old Song and Dance: The Allegorical Mode of the Khorovod in Russian Opera.” Mid-Atlantic Slavic Conference. New York, NY. April 2010.