Carnegie Mellon University

Tatyana  Gershkovich

Tatyana Gershkovich

Assistant Professor of Russian Studies


2016        Ph.D., Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University     
2007        B.A., Slavic Studies, Harvard University

Areas of Interest

Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Russian prose; European philosophy and intellectual history; aesthetics; interwar émigré literature; digital humanities; ethics and aesthetics of the Russian Internet


2018    “Suspicion On Trial: Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata and Nabokov’s ‘Pozdnyshev’s Address,’” PMLA (forthcoming in 2019).

2018    “Self-translation and the Transformation of Nabokov’s Aesthetics from Kamera obskura to Laughter in the Dark,” Slavic and East European Journal 62.4 (Winter 2018).

2017    “Хаджи-Мурат, как прообраз эстетической восприимчивости,” (“Hadji Murat’s Exemplary Aesthetic Receptivity”) Proceedings of the 10th International Leo Tolstoy Conference at Yasnaya Polyana, ed. by Galina Alekseeva (The Yasnaya Polyana Publishing House, 2018), 141–150.

2016    “News of the Profession: Tolstoy and World Literature 2016,” Tolstoy Studies Journal 28 (2016): 143–144.

2013    “Infecting, Simulating, Judging: Tolstoy’s Search for an Aesthetic Standard,” Journal of the History of Ideas 74 (January 2013): 115–137.

Digital Humanities

2015    Principal Investigator, Beyond the Ant Brotherhood: A Digital Visualization of Tolstoy’s Intellectual World, at

Manuscript in Progress

“Held Captive: Tolstoy, Nabokov, and the Aesthetics of Constraint.”

My book project engages with an ongoing debate in literary and cultural studies about how we ought to read. A growing number of scholars have argued that these fields have produced readers so well-trained in the “hermeneutics of suspicion” that suspicious reading is now performed on autopilot, deforming our understanding of texts and yielding predictable interpretations of them. Defenders of suspicious hermeneutics, on the other hand, fear that “non-suspicious” reading of whatever newfangled form (surface reading, reparative reading, distant reading) leave us inattentive to the power structures that shape literary texts and lead in the end to political quietism. I intervene in this debate by challenging an assumption shared by both sides—namely, that we are entirely free to choose how we read. Texts themselves, I argue, tend to condition how we read them. Instead of simply prescribing one mode of reading or another, we ought to investigate how our reading practices are determined, in large part, by the texts we encounter. To make my case, I examine the works of Tolstoy and Nabokov, two authors unusually concerned with how their readers read them.

Courses Taught

  • Radicals, Heretics, Hackers: Russian Outlaws in History, Literature, and Film
  • (un)Happiness in Russian Life and Art
  • 19th-Century Russian Masterpieces
  • Elementary Russian  
  • Intermediate Russian
  • Advanced Russian: Great Short Works