• Emily Van Buskirk
  • Emily Van Buskirk
  • Associate Professor
  • Program Director
  • Degree: Ph.D., Harvard University B.A., Princeton University
  • Phone: (848) 932-4082
  • Campus Address:

    15 Seminary Place, Room 4121
    New Brunswick, NJ 08901

  • Office Hours:

    Mondays, 1:45pm - 2:45pm, in person or via Zoom

    and by appointment




Research Interests:

Professor Van Buskirk specializes in Russian prose of the Soviet period. Much of her research focuses on questions of self-writing, genre, and concepts of the self. She is interested in diaries, autobiographies, memoir, documentary prose, and their relationship to the novel; in relationships between personality concepts and literary character; in the dual process of narrative creation and self-construction; as well as in the variety of literary responses to life’s ethical challenges, particularly in relation to twentieth-century historical catastrophes.

Her research interests include the prose of Lydia Ginzburg; narratives of the Gulag (especially Varlam Shalamov); representations of war and siege; Russian Formalism; gender and sexuality; the culture of the thaw, and of perestroika; memory and history; selfhood and ethics. In addition to prose, she is also interested in Russian and Soviet film, poetry, and twentieth-century Czech literature and film.


Co-Winner, MLA Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize, Slavic Languages and Literatures, for books published in 2015 and 2016 for Lydia Ginzburg's Prose: Reality in Search of Literature

Winner, 2017 AATSEEL Best Book in Literary Criticism, for Lydia Ginzburg's Prose: Reality in Search of Literature

School of Arts and Sciences Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education (Associate Professor level) (2017)

Rutgers Board of Trustees Research Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence, 2015

National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend 2013

Center for Cultural Analysis (Rutgers University), Faculty Fellowship (2010-2011)

Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies (2008-2009)

Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities (2007-2008)

Social Science Research Council, International Dissertation Research Fellowship (2005-2006)

Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship (2005-2006)

V. M. Setchkarev Memorial Prize for Best Graduate Student Essay (2006)

FLAS Academic Year Scholarship (2003-2004 Czech, 2004-2005 Russian)

Harvard Fainsod Scholarship (2001-2002)

Fulbright Scholarship, Czech Republic (1998-1999)

Publications (selected):


Van Buskirk LydiaGinzburgsProseLydia Ginzburg's Prose: Reality in Search of Literature (Princeton University Press, 2016)

 Based on a decade's work in Lydia Ginzburg’s archives, this book discusses previously unknown manuscripts and uncovers a wealth of new information about the author’s life, focusing on Ginzburg’s quest for a new kind of writing adequate to her times. She writes of universal experiences—frustrated love, professional failures, remorse, aging—and explores the modern fragmentation of identity in the context of war, terror, and an oppressive state. Searching for a new concept of the self, and deeming the psychological novel inadequate to express this concept, Ginzburg turned to fragmentary narratives that blur the lines between history, autobiography, and fiction.  This full account of Ginzburg’s writing career in many genres and emotional registers enables us not only to rethink the experience of Soviet intellectuals, but to arrive at a new understanding of writing and witnessing during a horrific century.


Edited Volumes:

Book cover final Random House
Lydia Ginzburg, Notes from the Blockade.  London, UK: Random House / Vintage Classics, 2016.  

 The 900-day siege of Leningrad was one of the turning points of the Second World War.  It became a national symbol of survival and resistance but an estimated one million civilians died of cold and hunger.  Lydia Ginzburg distilled the collective experience of life under siege into a genre-defying work, which combines detailed observations of a day in the life of a “blockade person” with psychological, philosophical, and historical analysis and reflection.  This edition contains an original translation by Alan Myers, which has been revised and annotated by Professor Van Buskirk.  It also includes “A Story of Pity and Cruelty,” a recently discovered narrative translated into English for the first time by Angela Livingstone, and edited by Van Buskirk.



Peter lang cover image
Lydia Ginzburg’s Alternative Literary Identities.
 A volume of solicited articles and translations. Co-edited with Andrei Zorin. Peter Lang AG (2012).

 The first part of this book is a collection of essays by a distinguished set of scholars, shedding new light on Ginzburg’s contributions to Russian literature and literary studies, life-writing, subjectivity, ethics, the history of the novel, and trauma studies. The second part is comprised of six works by Ginzburg published for the first time in English (translations by Emily Van Buskirk and Alyson Tapp). They represent a cross-section of her great themes, including Proustian notions of memory and place, the meaning of love and rejection, literary politics, ethnic and sexual identities, and the connections between personal biography and Soviet history.



Ginzburg cover Proxod. KharLidiia Ginzburg, Prokhodiashchie kharaktery. Zapiski blokadnogo cheloveka. Proza voennykh let. (Passing Characters. Notes of a Blockade Person. Prose from the War Years.) Co-edited, commentary, index, articles, with Andrei Zorin. (Moscow, Novoe izdatel’stvo: January 2011).

Passing Characters is the first scholarly edition of the prose of Lydia Ginzburg, the eminent Russian writer, thinker, and literary historian.  The collection contains her narratives, essays, and notes from the war years, which turned out to be the most productive period of her literary activity.  Most of these texts have never been published before—including the story of a blockade death, an early version of Notes from the Blockade, reflections on Soviet literature, and an essay about the identity of a Russian intelligent of Jewish descent in conditions of mounting anti-Semitism.



“Poniat’ zhizn’ rodnogo cheloveka: L. Ginzburg o raskaianii v blokade” (“To Understand the Life of a Loved One: Ginzburg and Remorse in the Blockade”).  In Blokadnye narrativy: sbornik statei.  Edited by Polina Barskova and Riccardo Nicolosi.  Conference Volume.  Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2017.

"Lidiia Ginzburg i postindividualisticheskii chelovek" ("Lydia Ginzburg and the Post-individualist Person"). In History and Subjectivity in Russian (late 19th-20th centuries). Conference Volume. European University in St. Petersburg, 2013, 511-529.

“Varieties of Failure: Ginzburg’s Character Analyses from the 1930s and 1940s,” in Lydia Ginzburg’s Alternative Literary Identities (2012).

Lidiia Ginzburg.  “Zapisi 50-60-kh godov” (“Notes from the 1950s-60s”), publication, introduction, commentaries, Seans (Séance) no. 51-52 (2012): 310-321.

Lidiia Ginzburg, “Prezumptsia sotsializma,” (“The Presumption of Socialism,”) publication, commentary, and  introductory article “Ginzburg i perestroika” (“Ginzburg and Perestroika”), with Andrei Zorin, Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie 116 (2012).

“Recovering the Past for the Future: Guilt, Memory, and Lidiia Ginzburg’s Notes of a Blockade Person,” Slavic Review 69. 2 (Summer 2010): 281-305.

“Lidiia Ginzburg on Elena Shvarts,” Slavonica 16. 2 (November 2010): 139-143.

Review of Pavel Brycz’s I, City in Slavic and East European Journal 53. 2 (Summer 2009).

“‘Nikto ne plachet nad tem, chto ego ne kasaetsia’: Chetvertyi ‘Razgovor o liubvi’ Lidii Ginzburg (podgotovka teksta, publikatsia i vstupitel’naia stat’ia Emily Van Buskirk. Perevod E. Kanishchevoi) (“‘No one cries over what doesn’t concern him’: Lidiia Ginzburg’s Fourth ‘Conversation about Love’”: text, publication, introductory article), Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie 88 (2007):154-168.

“‘Samo-otstranenie’ kak eticheskii i esteticheskii printsip v proze L.Ia. Ginzburg” (“Self-distancing as an Ethical and Aesthetic Principle in the Prose of Lydia Ginzburg”), Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie 81 (2006): 261-281.

Russian Formalism,” The Literary Encyclopedia, 4 December 2006. The Literary Dictionary Company.



"Review of Irina Sandomirskaia’s Blokada v slove: Ocherki kriticheskoi teorii i biopolitiki iazyka  (Blockade in the Word: Sketches of a critical theory and biopolitics of language).  Slavic Review 75.1 (Spring 2016).

"Fragmenty s otstupleniiami: Lidiia Ginzburg v nachale puti" ("Fragments with Digressions: Lydia Ginzburg at the Beginning of her Path"). Review of Stanislav Savitsky's Chastnyi chelovek: L.Ia. Ginzburg v kontse 1920-x—nachale 1930-x godov. Novoe literature obozrenie No. 128 (2014): 328-336.

Review of Pavel Brycz’s I, City in Slavic and East European Journal 53. 2 (Summer 2009).



Translations of Lydia Ginzburg’s essays “The Jewish Question,” “The State of Literature near the End of the War,” “Generation at a Turning Point.”  Co-translation (with Alyson Tapp) of “Conversations about Love.”  In Lydia Ginzburg’s Alternative Literary Identities, 2012, 343-382.

Translations of poems by Czech authors Michal Ajvaz and Jana Štroblová, Ezra: an Online Journal of Translation, Spring 2007 Vol. I No. 1.

Courses Taught at Rutgers:


Stories of Russian Life: Memory, Invention, Experience (860:348) satisfies Core goals AH o, p; WC d
Russia's Wars on Page and Screen (860:349) satisfies Core goals WCr
Gender and Sexuality in Russian Literature (860:435, 195:395 and 988:435)
Love and Death in the Russian Short Story (860:322) satisfies Core goals AH o, p; WCd
Reading Russian Literature in Russian (860:315)
Russian Literature and Revolution (860:260) satisfies Core goal AH p
Literature Across Borders: Surveillance (195:201) satisfies Core goals AH o, p
Post-war Czechoslovak Culture: Literature and Film (861:455 and 195:480:02)
SAS Interdisciplinary Honors Seminar: Stories of the Self (090:292:02)


Russian Literary Theory: Formalism, Bakhtin, Ginzburg, Lotman (16:195:617:01)
Self Writing (16:195:516:02)

You can learn more about Prof. Van Buskirk in the following video from Fall 2016, when she was featured in the Rutgers Tab.  The video, made by Sam Vladimirsky (Rutgers Class of 2020), is part of a series he calls "Awesome Humans."