I work on developing interdisciplinary methodologies in the study of literature and culture. The writers, artists, and intellectuals whose work we usually study within the constraints of university disciplines didn’t know or care about the boundaries between our academic departments. The major question of my research and teaching is how we may transgress academic boundaries in order to be able to grasp the full complexity of the cultural production that has so far shaped our history and consciousness.
My work brings into dialogue texts and concepts from numerous disciplines, including literature, film, religious studies, art history, philosophy and law. I am interested in what can "be done with words": this leads me to focus on the history of rhetoric, performance, communication, interdisciplinary narratology, and media studies, particularly in their material and corporeal aspects. My first book, Christ’s Subversive Body: Practices of Religious Rhetoric in Culture and Politics (Northwestern University Press, 2018), is dedicated to the diachronic and interdisciplinary methodology of comparison. It examines the rhetorical usages and the epistemological basis that the religious notion of Christ’s body has offered for alternative or subversive social and medial constructs at some critical junctures in the history of Western civilization. My co-edited volume Japan's Russia: Challenging the East-West Paradigm (with Sho Konishi) (Cambria Press, 2021), as well as my forthcoming book The Russian Kurosawa (Oxford University Press, 2022) and my current book project Thomas Mann’s Russia, examine the political, philosophical and mediating function of the reception of Russian literature in East and West. Before joining the faculty of Comparative Literature, I was a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Committee on Social Thought.
Work with students:
I help my students to develop innovative, cutting-edge comparative projects that involve different disciplines, languages and cultures. My students produce original work analyzing, for example, how musical and linguistic forms intersect in a 19th-c. opera, how literature incorporates and tests philosophical ideas, or how the translation of a Dutch painting into an American poem compares with English translations of Chinese poems.
In my courses students develop ground-breaking work of publishable quality. My students' publications include:
May Huang (Class of 2019), "More Than Looking: Translation as Imagination in Williams Carlos Williams’s 'The Dance' and Gary Snyder’s 'Deer Park'," The Oswald Review: An International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Criticism in the Discipline of English. Vol. 20.1 (2018) [Comparative Methods in the Humanities, Fall 2017]
Ella Parker (Class of 2020), "The Ship of Fools: Hieronymus Bosch in Response to Sebastian Brant," The Oswald Review: An International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Criticism in the Discipline of English. Vol. 22.1 (2020) [Vienna in Western Civilization II, Fall 2019]
Elma Hoffman (Class of 2021), (with Olga V. Solovieva), "Envisioning the Sea of Tonality: Takemitsu's and Tarkovsky's Nostalghia." Japan's Russia: Challenging the East-West Paradigm, eds. Olga V. Solovieva and Sho Konishi (Cambria Press, 2021). [Kurosawa and his Literary Sources, Fall 2019 and the College Summer Research Fellows Program, 2019]
“'Japan's Russia' as History and Method” (with Sho Konishi). Japan’s Russia: Challenging the East-West Paradigm, eds. Olga V. Solovieva and Sho Konishi. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2021, 13-34.
“Peepshow, Death Camp, Art Gallery: The Spaces of Pasolini’s Salò and Mauri’s Intellettuale.” TDR: The Drama Review, 63:1 (Spring 2019): 64-82.
“Rebellion: A Note on Agamben’s Reception of Dostoevsky in The Open.” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée, 43.4 (2016): 520-530.
“Identifying the Suspect: Lang’s M and the Trajectories of Film Criticism.” In A Companion to Fritz Lang, ed. Joseph McElhaney. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014, 94-113.
“Kurosawa Akira’s The Lower Depths: Beggar Cinema at the Disjuncture of Times.” Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, 5.1 & 2 (2013): 37-58. Reprinted in Chinese translation by Yan Peiwen in Zhongguo xueshu (China Scholarship), 12.1 (2015): 200-231.
“Fassbinder’s France: Genet’s Mise-en-Scène in Fassbinder’s Films.” A Companion to Rainer WernerFassbinder, ed. Brigitte Peucker. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012, 333-351.
“Epiphanius of Salamis and his Invention of Iconoclasm in the Fourth Century A.D.” Fides et Historia, 42.1 (2010): 21-46.
“‘Bizarre Epik des Augenblicks’: Gottfried Benn’s ‘Answer to the Literary Emigrants’ in the Context of his Early Prose.” German Studies Review, 33.1 (2o10): 119-140.
“Polyphonie und Karneval: Spuren Dostoevskijs in Thomas Manns Roman Doktor Faustus.” Poetica, 3-4 (2005): 463-494.
Russian Anarchists, Revolutionary Samurai: Introduction to the Russian-Japanese Intellectual Relations
Destruction of Books, Images and Artifacts in Europe and South Asia (co-taught with Tyler Williams)
Thomas Mann, Joseph and his Brothers
Comparative Methods in the Humanities
The Novel-Essay and Its Past: From Artsybashev’s Sanin to Musil’s Man Without Qualities
Intercultural Adaptation: Kurosawa and his Russian Sources
The Films of Jean-Luc Godard
Modern Rewritings of the Gospel Narratives