Nicole Svobodny

Nicole Svobodny

Senior Lecturer in Global Studies
Global Studies Study Abroad Advisor (beginning FL23)
Coordinator, Eurasian Studies concentration
PhD, Columbia University
BA, Brown University
research interests:
  • Russian Literature and Culture
  • Life Writing (Confession, Autobiography, Biography, etc.)
  • Performance Studies
  • Mobility Studies

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    MSC 1217-137-255
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

Dean Svobodny serves as a four-year advisor for Arts & Sciences undergraduates. She also is the coordinator of the Eurasian Studies concentration, an advisor for the major in Global Studies, and a senior lecturer in Russian literature and culture.

Recent Courses

Interrogating "Crime and Punishment"

Whether read as psychological thriller, spiritual journey, or social polemic, Dostoevsky's 1866 novel CRIME AND PUNISHMENT has inspired diverse artistic responses around the world. From the nineteenth century to the present day, writers and filmmakers have revisited (and often subverted) questions that Dostoevsky's novel poses: What internal and external forces cause someone to "step over" into crime? What are the implications of a confession? To what extent can the legal system provide a just punishment? Are forgiveness and redemption possible, or even relevant? What role does grace--or luck--play in the entire process? This course begins with our close reading of Dostoevsky's novel and then moves on to short stories, novels, literary essays, and movies that engage in dialogue with the Russian predecessor. A central concern of our intertextual approach is to explore the interplay between specific socio-historical contexts and universal questions. All readings are in English. No prerequisites.

    Russian Literature at the Borders: Multiculturalism and Ethnic Conflict

    In this course we explore Russian literary works (from the nineteenth century to the present day) that address issues of multiculturalism and ethnic conflict. The course is structured as a virtual tour of culturally significant places. Our readings take us to Ukraine/Belarus, the Caucasus, Siberia, and Central Asia. Some of the topics we discuss include national narratives and metaphor, authority and rebellion, migration and mobility, empire, orientalism, religious identities, gender roles, memory, and the poetics of place. Materials include poetry, drama, novels, short stories, critical articles, and oral history.

      Selected Publications

      Catharine Theimer Nepomnyashchy, Nicole Svobodny, and Ludmilla Trigos, eds. with a foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Under the Sky of My Africa: Pushkin and Blackness, Northwestern University Press, May 2006.