Empowerment Over Violence: A Compassionate Way for Lasting Social Change
Andrew D. Kaufman » Russian Literature
by Andrew D. Kaufman
1M ago
I haven’t been able to tear myself away from stories about the anti-Israel protests roiling college campuses. As a Jew and former college professor, this news is deeply personal and triggering. I’ve been a Molotov cocktail of conflicting thoughts and emotions. Who Is Right? Who Is Wrong? Listen to your favorite guru or pundit these days, and you, too, may be more convinced than ever of the rightness of your position. The more wounded or outraged you are, the more convinced you’re likely to be. But know that those who are just as hurt and furious as you are, and who passionately disagree with ..read more
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Why Teachers Must Bring Humanity to The Classroom
Andrew D. Kaufman » Russian Literature
by Andrew D. Kaufman
7M ago
The Metamorphosis in the Classroom The Metamorphosis happens sometime between the moment when John Smith exits his car in the college parking lot, treks across the beautiful grassy campus, enters the building where he’s about to engage in something called Teaching, and finally, steps foot into the Classroom where said Teaching will take place. The man formerly known as John, a full-blooded human being with dreams and doubts, hopes and frustrations, quirks and a personality, morphs into the imperturbable, slightly unknowable yet all-knowing Professor Smith, a being without struggles, without f ..read more
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5 Dostoyevsky Works You Want To Learn More About
Andrew D. Kaufman » Russian Literature
by Andrew D. Kaufman
7M ago
In my latest book, The Gambler Wife: A True Story of Love, Risk, and the Woman Who Saved Dostoyevsky, I tell the story of Dostoyevsky’s second wife, Anna, who was indispensable in helping the great author overcome a long list of personal, business, and literary struggles. It was with her help that he was able to create some of the most important works of world literature. Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov are his best-known novels, and Notes from the Underground, The Idiot, and The Possessed are all widely read and taught. But those are just the highlights of his prodigious cata ..read more
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Most “Great” Russian Writers Were Men. Here’s How We Need To Change That Today
Andrew D. Kaufman » Russian Literature
by Andrew D. Kaufman
7M ago
Alexander Pushkin monument, St. Petersburg, Russia Russian Writers In History I’ll never forget the uncomfortable conversation I had years ago with my good friend, writer, and philosopher Marietta McCarty. She was sharing with me her struggles to get men in her field to take seriously the notion that women could be philosophers, too. Surely I was more enlightened than that? she wanted to confirm. Of course I was, I told her with a self-assured smile. “How many women writers do you teach in your Russian literature classes this semester?” Marietta then asked. “Uh, none,” I replied ..read more
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The Humane Russia I Love, The Brutal Russia I Hate
Andrew D. Kaufman » Russian Literature
by Andrew D. Kaufman
7M ago
As someone who’s dedicated much of my professional life to studying Russian literature and culture, I’m following the tragic war in Ukraine with great interest and sadness. It is teaching me lessons both personal and political: how dictatorships work, how bullies maintain their grip on power, how leaders’ deep inferiority complexes often masquerade as superiority complexes, and how repressive regimes project their pathologies onto the world while keeping their own citizens cowered in fear and misinformation. The war is a case study specifically of how Russia’s imperial ambitions th ..read more
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Why Most Russians Still Love Putin
Andrew D. Kaufman » Russian Literature
by Andrew D. Kaufman
7M ago
I’m often asked how Russian literature of the past can help illuminate Russian politics today. I recently wrote an article on this very subject and received a number of follow-up questions. One of the most interesting of them was: Why is Putin still so popular in Russia despite the world’s response to his war and the sanctions crippling his country’s economy? There’s an explanation for this. Though his veil of invincibility has recently been pierced by Ukrainian successes on the battlefield and growing dissent at home, don’t underestimate the hold Putin’s rhetoric still has on the Russian ima ..read more
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If Only Putin Had a Soul, Tolstoy Could Be the One To Save It. Here’s Why.
Andrew D. Kaufman » Russian Literature
by Andrew D. Kaufman
7M ago
I wrote this article back in 2014, when Putin annexed Crimea. Back then the title was “How Tolstoy Can  Save Putin’s Soul.” The tragic stakes are much higher now and Putin’s soul is clearly beyond saving, but the cultural backdrop is still entirely relevant so I wanted to share it with you.  The drama being played out right now in Russia and Ukraine isn’t merely geopolitical. It’s a deep-seated drama of the national soul that’s been around for centuries. And Russian literature is the place we see it in full flower. You see, the question Vladimir Putin is grappling with is the one th ..read more
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How The People of Ukraine Are Living Out The Deepest Lessons of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky
Andrew D. Kaufman » Russian Literature
by Andrew D. Kaufman
7M ago
Pierre Bezukhov at the Battle of Borodino in War and Peace Ukraine And Russia Whenever I mention that I teach Russian literature these days, I get a weird look of surprise, confusion, or even disgust. I’m not alone. A few weeks ago a German university canceled a class on Dostoyevsky in order to make a clear statement of their opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian performers are getting canceled if they refuse to denounce Putin. Rivers of Russian vodka are currently flowing in sinks, toilets, and back alleys across the U.S. But let’s be clear: The atrocities being committed in Uk ..read more
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6 Short, Accessible Books to Get You Started in Russian Literature
Andrew D. Kaufman » Russian Literature
by Andrew D. Kaufman
7M ago
An Introduction to Russian Literature People who haven’t read much Russian literature probably have at least one preconceived notion of the genre — that they can expect a long book. And that’s understandable, considering that the works most often referenced as masterpieces in the field are indeed intimidatingly long. Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina run more than 800 pages each, while War and Peace (also by Tolstoy) is well over 1,000 pages, with some editions reaching close to 1,500.   No matter how many trusted friends tell you that they’re worth re ..read more
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Dostoyevsky on the Importance of Community. How to Create It in the Classroom
Andrew D. Kaufman » Russian Literature
by Andrew D. Kaufman
7M ago
Creating community in the classroom has been crucial this past year, particularly at the university level. We should be thankful for all the ways that we’ve been able to remain in contact over the last 18 months, even if they aren’t ideal. From Zoom calls to masking to social distancing, we’ve done our best to keep that sense of community together, despite the restrictions necessary to fight this terrible virus. Yet it’s also been a constant reminder of all that we’ve lost and that those communal interactions are so essential, even if they take extra effort these days.  As an educator, I ..read more
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