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When Nabokov writes badly... The question of quality, and laughter in the dark.

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Sean Durman.

Professor Eric Naiman, the 2011 Distinguished Scholar in Modern and Medieval Languages and Literatures, will present a public lecture drawn from his ongoing work on Nabokov, and direct a workshop for graduate students focussing on close reading as critical practice.

Eric Naiman is Professor of Comparative Literature and Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Nabokov, Perversely (Cornell University Press, 2010) and Sex in Public: The Incarnation of Early Soviet Ideology. (Princeton University Press, 1997) and co-editor (with Christina Kiaer) of Everyday Life in Revolutionary Russia: Taking the Revolution Inside (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006) and (with Evgenii Dobrenko) of The Landscape of Stalinism: The Art and Ideology of Soviet Space (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003), as well as many articles on gender and sexuality in Russian literature.

In Nabokov, Perversely Naiman argues that the sexual and the interpretive are so tightly bound together in Nabokov’s fiction that the reader confronts the fear that there is no stable line between good reading and overreading,. Reading Nabokov well is beset by the exhilaration and performance anxiety more frequently associated with questions of sexuality than of literature. This book has been hailed by critics as ’ a well-reasoned and brilliant attempt to revolutionize Nabokov studies’ , ‘a mind-bending inquiry into Nabokov s strategies for harnessing unruly bodies to fuel perfect words’ and ‘a tour de force that will …change the way we think about how we read’.

This talk is part of the Slavonic Studies series.

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