Hi, I’m the lead investigator of Digital Dostoevsky, and an Associate Professor in the Slavic Department at the University of Toronto. My background is in the study of the nineteenth century Russian novel in general, and Dostoevsky’s novels in particular. I’m fascinated by the novel as a genre, and the different narrative strategies novelists use to represent their particular time and place. I see Dostoevsky as a radical innovator of form and a great architect of the novel as a genre, and my research trajectory can be seen as a series of attempts to investigate his contributions to the novel and the conditions that motivate them. My first book is The Novel in the Age of Disintegration: Dostoevsky and the Problem of Genre in the 1870s (here, 2013). It is concerned with Dostoevsky’s novelistic response to the social and aesthetic questions of Russian modernity, as they developed in the period following the emancipation of the serfs and the other modernizing reforms carried out by the government of Tsar Alexander II in the Russia of the 1860s. I’m currently working on a book on time in Russian Realism.
I love teaching. I teach courses on Dostoevsky and other nineteenth-century Russian literature every year and my academic work is continually informed by my teaching. I have also co-edited, with Katherine Bowers and Connor Doak, a volume on teaching Dostoevsky’s novels, A Dostoevskii Companion: Texts and Contexts (here, 2018). I’ve also co-edited with Katherine Bowers, an edited volume on Dostoevsky scholarship in his bicentenary, Dostoevsky at 200: The Novel in Modernity (here, and open access here, 2021), which reflects our shared interest in Dostoevsky, genre, and modernity.
I enjoy engaging with readers of Dostoevsky in all kinds of forums and contexts and am very active in public-facing scholarship and outreach programs related to reading Dostoevsky. In 2016, together with Katherine Bowers, I organized an international outreach program marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment which included a conference, a film screening, online discussion groups, two library exhibits, and a journal special issue. You can find out more about our Crime and Punishment project here. I have been on the executive board of the North American Dostoevsky Society since 2018, and in 2019 I became President of the Society. In that role, I’ve co-organized with Katherine Bowers, an online lecture series of bicentennial talks and many other events. We are currently organizing a series of events this fall marking Dostoevsky’s bicentenary. I serve on the editorial board of Dostoevsky Studies.
In the last few years, I’ve become interested in Digital Humanities and in computational approaches to text analysis. This is a new direction for me and for my research into Dostoevsky’s contribution to the novel, but it opens up fascinating new possibilities for exploring the deep structure of his novels, providing new answers to the questions that have motivated my research throughout my career. I’m particularly interested in the new possibilities offered by computational approaches for extending the range of close reading. I see such analysis as expanding the reach of philology, the broader field to which literary analysis belongs. I’m excited by the opportunities provided by text encoding, machine reading, natural language processing, and other methodologies for providing new answers to the old questions scholars have been asking about Dostoevsky’s novels for more than a century.