19th century Russian literature and culture. The Russian, European, and American novel; narrative theory and theory of the novel (Georg Lukács and Mikhail Bakhtin); intersections between philosophy and literature; Russian realism and Symbolism; serialization and adaptation; literary character; translation studies; science fiction.
2021 - Humanities Plus Pedagogical Initiative Grant, Rutgers University
2020 - School of Arts and Sciences Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education (Assistant Professor level), Rutgers University
Fellow at the International Doctoral Program ‘Mimesis,’ Ludwig Maximilians Universität, Munich (Summer 2017)
Princeton Society of Fellows (2016-2017)
Dissertation Completion Grant, Mabelle McLeod Lewis Memorial Fund
Townsend Dissertation Fellowship, UC Berkeley
Berkeley Language Center Fellowship, UC Berkeley
Mellon Discovery Fellowship, Townsend Center for the Humanities, UC Berkeley
Mimetic Lives: Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Character in the Novel (Northwestern University Press, Sept. 2021).
What makes some characters seem so real? Mimetic Lives: Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Character in the Novel explores this question through readings of major works by Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Working at the height of the Russian realist tradition, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky each discovered unprecedented techniques for intensifying the aesthetic illusion that Kitzinger calls mimetic life—the reader’s sense of a character’s autonomous, embodied existence. At the same time, both authors tested the practical limits of that illusion by extending it toward the novel’s formal and generic bounds: philosophy, history, journalism, theology, myth.
Through new readings of War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Brothers Karamazov, and other novels, Kitzinger traces a productive tension between mimetic characterization and the author’s ambition to transform the reader. She shows how Tolstoy and Dostoevsky create lifelike characters, and why the dream of carrying the illusion of “life” beyond the novel consistently fails. Mimetic Lives challenges the contemporary truism that novels educate us by providing enduring models for the perspectives of others, with whom we can then better empathize. Seen close, the realist novel’s power to create a world of compelling fictional persons underscores its resources as a form for thought, and its limits as a direct source of spiritual, social, or political change.
“Dinner at the English Club: Character on the Margins in Tolstoy’s War and Peace,” Slavic and East European Journal 61.2 (Summer 2017): 311–330.
“‘A Variety of Forms’: Reading Bodies in Nabokov,” Nabokov Studies 14 (2016): 1–30.
“‘This Ancient, Fragile Vessel’: Degeneration in Bely’s Petersburg,” Slavic and East European Journal 57:3 (Fall 2013): 403–424.
Chapters in Edited Volumes
“Mapping the Networks of Crime and Punishment,” Approaches to Teaching Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, ed. M. Katz and A. Burry (MLA “Approaches to Teaching World Literature” series, forthcoming in 2021).
“Illegitimacies of the Novel: Characterization in Dostoevsky’s The Adolescent,” Dostoevsky at 200, ed. K. Holland and K. Bowers (U. of Toronto Press, forthcoming in 2021).
Annotations and interpretive commentary to V.V. Nabokov, Lectures on Literature (“Tolstoy”), The Nabokovian (website of the International Vladimir Nabokov Society). Published Fall 2018, accessible to Nabokov Society members at http://thenabokovian.org/annotations.
“Istoriia vsekh”: Epilog i sistema personazhei v romane Tolstogo ‘Voina i mir’ [“The history of all”: The epilogue and the character-system of Tolstoy’s War and Peace]. In Lev Tolstoi i mirovaia literatura: Materialy IX Mezhdunarodnoi nauchnoi konferentsii, edited by Galina Alekseeva (2016).
Courses Taught at Rutgers:
Dostoevsky (01:860:330:01; AH o, p; cross-listed with Comparative Literature)
Tolstoy's War and Peace (01:860:289:01; WCd)
Tolstoy (01:860:331:01; AH o, p; WCd)
Serial Storytelling Across Media (01:860:345; cross-listed with Comparative Literature and English)
Special Topics: Russian and Soviet Science Fiction (01:860:320)
Dostoevsky and The Brothers Karamazov (01:860:488)
Gender and Sexuality in Russian Literature (01:860:435:01)
Novel Theories, Tutor Texts (16:195:601:01)