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For several decades my scholarly and teaching interests have been focused on the 19th century (Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Russian opera) with a 20th-century pocket for Mikhail Bakhtin. Some of these themes recycle (Pushkin's Boris Godunov, for example, which was both part of my dissertation and featured in April 2007 on the Princeton campus, a premiere of the unrealized Pushkin / Meyerhold / Prokofiev staging of 1937); others are relatively new, such as my interest in the fate of the scholarly humanities (in the States and in contemporary Russia); the Central European novel; Russian spiritual philosophy; and dramatic experiments on the Stalinist-era stage (both Moscow Chamber Theater, and Meyerhold's troupe), especially adaptations of the classics with incidental music.
My Introduction to Russian Literaturehas just appeared (CUP, 2008), and several other projects are in process: Lydiia Ginzburg's alternatives to both the Formalists and Bakhtin; a restoration of the playscript of Egyptian Nights(parts George Bernard Shaw, Pushkin, and Shakespeare), performed in 1934-35 by Tairov's Moscow Chamber Theater with Prokofiev's music; and, for the long term, the dramatic and essayistic works of the Russian surrealist and philosopher of the theater, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (1887-1950).
Undergraduate courses taught:
Survey of 19th century Literature
Tolstoy's War and Peace
Russians and the Devil
The Eastern European Novel
Graduate courses taught:
Russian Approaches to Literature and Culture (Formalists, Bakhtin, Cultural Semiotics)
Readings in Russian Spiritual Philosophy
Russian Classics on (and off) the Stalinist Stage
The tale of Boris Godunov—tsar, usurper, tsarecide—dating from the early seventeenth-century Time of Troubles, inspired three major nineteenth-century Russian cultural expressions: in history by Nikolai Karamzin, in drama by Alexander Pushkin, and in opera by Modest Musorgsky. Each of these famous creations was a vehicle for generic innovation, in which a specifically Russian concept of genre was asserted in opposition to the reigning European models: German historiography,...
'All the Same the Words Don't Go Away' brings together twenty-five years of essays and reviews, linked loosely by three themes. First is the creative potential inherent in transposing classic literary texts into other genres or media (operatic, dramatic) and the responsibilities, if any, that govern the transposer, audience, and critic. The practice of transposition, however, gives rise to a creative confl ict: is there a limit to the amount of ornamentation, pressure, or dilution to which...
Russian literature arrived late on the European scene. Within several generations, its great novelists had shocked - and then conquered - the world. In this introduction to the rich and vibrant Russian tradition, Caryl Emerson weaves a narrative of recurring themes and fascinations across several centuries. Beginning with traditional Russian narratives (saints' lives, folk tales, epic and rogue narratives), the book moves through literary history chronologically and thematically, juxtaposing...
This is a brief biography of Russia's greatest musical dramatist, Modest Musorgsky (1839-1881), known the world over for his opera Boris Godunov, for his innovative realistic art songs, and for his pianistic work "Pictures at an Exhibition." Yet during his life Musorgsky had no institutional connections, no "degree," no family of his own, not even a permanent address. This book emphasizes the psychological and economic factors that contributed to the composer's remarkable autodidactic rise...
Ed. Michael Holquist. Trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist.
Ed. and trans. Caryl Emerson.