Nicole Svobodny

‚ÄčAssistant Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
Senior Lecturer, International and Area Studies
Coordinator, Eurasian Studies concentration
PhD, Columbia University
BA, Brown University
research interests:
  • Russian Literature and Culture
  • Life Writing (Confession, Autobiography, Biography, etc.)
  • Performance Studies
  • Mobility Studies
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contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
  • CB 1088
  • One Brookings Drive
  • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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Dean Svobodny serves as a four-year advisor for Arts & Sciences undergraduates. She also is the coordinator of the Eurasian Studies concentration, an advisor for the major in International and Area Studies, and a senior lecturer in Russian literature and culture.

Recent Courses

Interrogating "Crime and Punishment"

Whether read as psychological thriller, spiritual journey, or social polemic, Dostoevsky's 1866 novel CRIME AND PUNISHMENT has inspired diverse artistic responses around the world. From the nineteenth century to the present day, writers and filmmakers have revisited (and often subverted) questions that Dostoevsky's novel poses: What internal and external forces cause someone to "step over" into crime? What are the implications of a confession? To what extent can the legal system provide a just punishment? Are forgiveness and redemption possible, or even relevant? What role does grace--or luck--play in the entire process? This course begins with our close reading of Dostoevsky's novel and then moves on to short stories, novels, literary essays, and movies that engage in dialogue with the Russian predecessor. A central concern of our intertextual approach is to explore the interplay between specific socio-historical contexts and universal questions. All readings are in English. No prerequisites.

    Russian Literature at the Borders: Multiculturalism and Ethnic Conflict

    In this course we explore Russian literary works (from the nineteenth century to the present day) that address issues of multiculturalism and ethnic conflict. The course is structured as a virtual tour of culturally significant places. Our readings take us to Ukraine/Belarus, the Caucasus, Siberia, and Central Asia. Some of the topics we discuss include national narratives and metaphor, authority and rebellion, migration and mobility, empire, orientalism, religious identities, gender roles, memory, and the poetics of place. Materials include poetry, drama, novels, short stories, critical articles, and oral history.

      Selected Publications

      Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy, Nicole Svobodny, and Ludmilla Trigos, eds. with a foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Under the Sky of My Africa: Pushkin and Blackness, Northwestern University Press, May 2006.

      Migration and Mobility in the Modern Age: Refugees, Travelers, and Traffickers in Europe and Eurasia

      Migration and Mobility in the Modern Age: Refugees, Travelers, and Traffickers in Europe and Eurasia

      Combining methodological and theoretical approaches to migration and mobility studies with detailed analyses of historical, cultural, or social phenomena, the works collected here provide an interdisciplinary perspective on how migrations and mobility altered identities and affected images of the "other." From walkways to railroads to airports, the history of travel provides a context for considering the people and events that have shaped Central and Eastern Europe and Russia.