Ellen Chances

Professor, on leave fall 2023
Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
Office Phone
228 East Pyne
  • PhD in Russian literature (Princeton University, 1972)
  • MA in Russian literature (Princeton University, 1970)
  • BA in Russian literature (Oberlin College, 1967)

My scholarly and teaching interests are wide-ranging, from studies on individual authors such as Andrei Bitov, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and Kharms, to broad interdisciplinary explorations of the psychology of culture, and the interplay between literature and the other arts. My focus is on the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first-century Russian novel; Soviet and post-Soviet Russian literature and culture; the study of literature in its historical context; literature and ideas; literature and art; literature and values; and literature and film.

Other Russian literature and culture related activities have included discussing Russian films (including Tarkovsky) on CUNY-TV; being literature and culture consultant for Princeton's McCarter Theater productions of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" and "Cherry Orchard," directed by Emily Mann; and creating and organizing a year-long series of lectures and events in connection with the 2006 exhibit on "Mir iskusstva," on loan, at the Princeton University Art Museum, from St.Petersburg's Russkii Muzei. 
I also write fiction, memoirs, essays, and poetry.

Authored Books


book cover
Andrei Bitov: The Ecology of Inspiration.

Cambridge University Press, 1993.

ISBN-10:  0521025273

ISBN-13: 978-0521025270

This is the first book-length study of Andrei Bitov, one of contemporary Russia's most original writers. It plots his evolution from the post-Stalin years to his mature masterpieces of the glasnost era and assesses his place in the Russian and international literary tradition. Ellen Chances explores his themes, from the psychological effects of Stalin on Soviet society to universal questions such as the human being's relationship with nature, history and culture, and describes how his writings go beyond modernist and postmodernist fragmentation in search of the wholeness of life.


book cover
Conformity's Children: An Approach to the Superfluous Man in Russian Literature.

Slavica, 1978.


Ellen Chances
Андрей Битов: Экология вдохновения.

(Russian translation of Andrei Bitov: The Ecology of Inspiration) Trans. I. Larionov. Saint Petersburg: Akademicheskii proekt, 2006.


5-7331-0291-8; 2006 г.


Selected Articles: 

 "'Экология' человека в романе Битова Оглашенные: птицы, границы, связи и паузы." ["The 'Ecology' of Man in Bitov's Novel, The Monkey Link: Birds, Boundaries, Connections and Pauses."] 
in Oktiabr'. No. 4 (2007). (Trans. Ksana Blank)

"The Energy of Honesty, or Brussels Lace, Mandel'štam, 'Stolen Air,' and Inner Freedom. A Visit to the Creative Workshop of Andrej Bitov's Puškin House." 
in Russian Literature. Vol. 61, No.4 (2007): 503-524.

"Bitov, Life, and Literature: Introduction." 
in Russian Literature. Vol. 61, No. 4 (2007): 371-376. "Cycles, Layers, Fragmentariness, Creation Myths, and Thread, or Why is Bitov's Man in the Landscape?" 
in Russian Literature. Vol. 61, No.4 (2007): 417-424.

"Tolstoy in the Tropics: The Importance of Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature in Twenty-First-Century Cuban-American Drama." 
in Word, Music, History: A Festschrift for Caryl Emerson. Eds. Lazar Fleishman, Gabriella Safran, and Michael Wachtel. Stanford Slavic Studies, 2005. 742-751.

"'The World of Art' and the Context of Russian Literature." 
in catalogue for "World of Art" art exhibit in US (including Princeton University Art Museum, Spring 2006). 2005.

"The Thick Journal Novyi mir at the Peak of Glasnost Era Euphoria." 
in Toward a Classless Society: Studies in Literature, History, and Politics in Honor of Thompson Bradley. Eds. Sibelan Forrester and Thomas Newlin. Bloomington: Slavica, 2005. 71-83.

"Andrey Tarkovsky's Film, 'The Sacrifice,' and its Russian Literary Roots." 
in American Contributions to the Thirteenth International Congress of Slavists (Liubliana). Vol. 2. Bloomington, Slavica, 2003. 9-19.

"Andrei Bitov's Novyi Gulliver: A Soul's Whisper and a Hole, or Shepherds, Reed Pipes, and the Resilience of the Human Spirit." (Review essay) 
in Slavic and East European Journal. Vol. 47, No. 2 (Summer 2003): 292-297.

"Reflections of Contemporary Russian Society, Culture, and Values in Iurii Mamin's Film, Window to Paris." 
in American Contributions to the Twelfth International Congress of Slavists (Cracow), August-September 1998. Literature. Linguistics. Poetics. Slavica, 1998. 21-31.

"Nina Berberova." 
in Luminaries: Princeton Faculty Remembered. Ed. Patricia Marks. Lawrenceville, NJ: Princeton Academic Press, 1996. 13-20.

"The Superfluous Man in Russian Literature." 
(reprint of "Russian Literature's Superfluous Man, From the Nineteenth Century to the Present Day") in The Routledge Companion to Russian Literature. Ed. Neil Cornwell. London: Routledge Press, 2001. 111-122.

 "'Unheard Music': Literary Refrains in the Film 'A Forgotten Melody for the Flute.'" 
in American Contributions to the Eleventh International Congress of Slavists (Bratislava, August-September, 1993). Eds. Robert A. Maguire and Alan Timberlake. Columbus, Ohio: Slavica, 1993. 36-42.

"The Seasons of Our Consciousness: Andrei Bitov's 'Life in Windy Weather' and 'Notes from around the Corner.'" 
in Russian Language Journal. Vol 45, Nos. 151-152 (Spring-Fall, 1991): 121-128.

"The Island and the Ocean: Andrei Bitov and his 'Allusions' to Dostoevsky. The Significance of Dostoevsky for Bitov's Writings." 
in Literature, Culture, and Society in The Modern Age. Festschrift for Joseph Frank. Eds. Edward Brown, Lazar Fleishman, Gregory Freidin, and Richard Schupback. Stanford Slavic Studies, 1992. Part II: 461-477.

 "Moscow Meets Manhattan: The Russian Soul of Woody Allen's Films." 
in American Studies International. Vol. 30, No. 1 (April 1992): 65-77.

"Keeping the Lies Alive: Case Studies of the Psychology of Stalinism in Contemporary Soviet Literature and Film." 
in Harriman Institute Forum. Vol. 4, No. 4 (April 1991): 1-8.

"Andrei Bitov's 'Armenia Lessons': Culture and Values." 
in Armenian Review. Vol. 41, No. 3-163 (Autumn 1988): 41-52.

"Authenticity as the Tie That Binds: Andrei Bitov's 'Armenia Lessons.'" 
in Russian Literature (Netherlands). Vol. 28 (1990): 1-10.

"Andrei Bitov: The Attenuated Boundary between Art and Life." 
in Slavic and East European Arts. Vol. 6, No. 2 (Winter 1990): 148-158.

"Andrei Bitov's 'Life in Windy Weather': The Creative Process in Life and Literature." 
in Slavic Review. Vol. 50, No. 2 (Summer 1991): 400-409.

"Sunny Side Up: Creativity in Andrei Bitov's 'Sun.'" 
in A Festschrift in Honor of Thomas G. Winner. Semiotics and the Arts. Ed. Amy Mandelker. Vol. 22, Nos. 1-4 (1988): 329-336.

"Daniil Kharms' 'Old Woman' Climbs Her Family Tree: 'Starukha' and the Russian Literary Past." 
in Russian Literature (Netherlands). Vol. 17 (1985): 353-366.

"The Reds and Ragtime: The Soviet Reception of Doctorow." 
in E. L. Doctorow: Essays and Conversations. Ed. Richard Trenner. Princeton: Ontario Review Press, 1983. 153-158.

"Miliukov's 'Svetoch' and Dostoevsky's 'Vremya': A Case of Recycled Ideas?" 
in Slavic Review. Vol. 43, No. 4 (Winter 1984): 588-603.

"Chekhov and Kharms: Story/Antistory." 
in Russian Language Journal. Vol. 36, Nos. 123-124 (1982): 181-192.

"Chekhov, Nabokov, and the Box: Making a Case for Belikov and Luzhin." 
in Russian Language Journal. No. 140 (1987): 135-142.

"Balmont - Bard of the Existential Void." 
in Russian Language Journal. Vol. 31, No. 110 (Fall 1977): 65-77.

"Chekhov's Seagull: Ethereal Creature or Stuffed Bird?" 
in Chekhov's Art of Writing: A Collection of Critical Essays. Eds. Paul Debreczeny and Thomas Eekman. Columbus, Ohio: Slavica, 1977. 27-35.

"Mayakovsky's 'Vse-taki' and Boccioni: Case Study in Comparable Technique." 
in Russian Literature Triquarterly. Vol. 12 (Spring 1975): 345-351.

"Literary Criticism and the Ideology of Pochvennichestvo in Dostoevsky's Thick Journals Vremia and Epokha." 
in The Russian Review. Vol. 34, No. 2 (April 1975): 151-164.

"Pochvennichestvo - Evolution of an Ideology." 
in Modern Fiction Studies. Vol. 20, No. 4 (Winter 1974-75): 543-551.

"Pochvennichestvo: Ideology in Dostoevsky's Periodicals." 
in Mosaic. Vol. 7, No. 2 (Winter 1974): 71-88.