I graduated from Horace Mann School (New York), and attended Williams College where I was the very first Russian major. Following graduation, I studied at Oxford University and the University of Leningrad, after which I received my D.Phil. (or Ph.D.) in Russian Literature from Oxford. First I taught Russian at Williams; I was Chair of the Department of Slavic Language at the University of Texas at Austin and Director of the Title VI Center for Russian and East European Studies; I became Dean of Language Schools and Schools Abroad at Middlebury in 1998. After my term as Dean ended in 2004, I taught full-time in the Russian Department. I retired from in December 2010.
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
ENGL 7751 - Tolstoy and/or Dostoevsky
Summer 2014 - BLSE
ENGL 7753 - 19thC Realist Novel Old & New
Summer 2013, Summer 2015 - BLSE
ENGL 7765 - Modern European Drama
CMLT 1002 - Literature and Liberation ▹
Literature and Liberation
When Abraham Lincoln finally met Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of the best-selling novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), he is reported to have said: “So, this is the little lady that started the Civil War.” Published only one decade later, but a whole world away, Nikolai Chernyshevsky’s controversial novel What is to be Done? (1863) has been described as the single work that “supplied the emotional dynamic that eventually went to make the Russian Revolution.” In this course we will focus on these two novels that exerted an immense impact on society, had a powerful effect on human lives, and demonstrate the power to make history. LIT WTR
INTD 1156 - Jewish Humor: No Joke
Jewish Humor: No Joke!
What makes jokes funny? How do jokes connect with the absurd? How do jokes ameliorate hardship? Is “Jewish humor” distinct from other forms? How? In this course we will investigate Jewish humor, ranging from the Bible to Yiddish writers, its function in the face of persecution (even the Holocaust), and its role in contemporary America and Israel. In addition to studying and enjoying Jewish jokes in literature, film, websites, and other sources, we will consider theories of humor, including Sigmund Freud’s famous essay on jokes, Henri Bergson’s Laughter, and Ted Cohen’s Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters. The course will emphasize oral presentation. CMP WTR
RELI 1030 - Jews & Rus Empire in Crisis
Jews and the Russian Empire in Crisis
S. An-sky (1863-1920) was a Russian-Jewish writer, ethnographer, and social activist. A prolific author, he wrote in two languages in every imaginable genre: articles, novels, plays, and songs. His best known work, The Dybbuk, immortalizes the legendary figure of a dead soul that takes possession of a living body to right an injustice suffered during its lifetime. We will study An-sky’s collected “works”: his fiction, play, memoirs, photographs, artifacts, and folk music. Our goal is a greater understanding of the cultural borderland between the two worlds, Russian and Jewish, which An-sky inhabited and portrayed at a time of crisis. (This class counts toward a concentration in Judaism within the religion major or as an elective credit towards the religion major). CMP EUR WTR
I have written two books, one on the literary ballad in early 19th c. Russian poetry and the other on dreams and the unconscious in 19th c. Russian prose. I have translated a dozen or so works into English, including works by Herzen, Chernyshevsky, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Mikhail Artsybashev, Vladimir Jabotinsky, Ivan Shcheglov, and Boris Akunin. I am currently working on an annotated translation of S. An-sky's novel "The Pioneers."