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John Kopper

Photo of John KopperJohn M. Kopper received his M.A. (1980) and Ph.D. (1985) in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, with a specialization in Russian literature. In 1976 he studied children’s art in Romania,  Bulgaria, and Poland under a grant from the Thomas Watson Foundation. Before coming to Dartmouth, Kopper taught in the Slavic Department at UCLA. He served as Acting Chair of Russian (1988) and as Chair of Dartmouth’s Comparative Literature Program (2000 to 2005). His thirty and more articles include studies of the literature of exile (Mandelstam and Ovid); colonialism (André Brink and Viktor Pelevin, and the Arseniev/Kurosawa script of Dersu Uzala); literary theory (critiques of Russian Formalism, and Jakobson’s tropologies); Enlightenment models of cognition in Gogol; and Shakespeare’s theory of the subject in Troilus and Cressida. He co-edited the volume Essays in the Art and Theory of Translation (1997). The authors to whom he consistently returns are Leo Tolstoy, Andrei Bely, Vladimir Nabokov, and Boris Poplavsky. He is currently completing an annotated translation of Poplavsky’s 1929 novel Apollon Bezobrazov.

Kopper is interested in teaching good writing at all levels, including First-year Seminars, tutorials with senior thesis writers, and the masters course “Workshop in Critical Writing.”

In recent years he has anchored the Russian Department’s course on Dostoevsky, and continues to expand renditions of his Comparative Literature offering, “Literature and Music.”

Representative Publications

  • "Tolstoy and the Narrative of Sex: A Reading of 'Father Sergius', 'The Devil', and 'The Kreutzer Sonata'," in In the Shade of the Giant: Essays on Tolstoy,  ed. Hugh McLean (Berkeley: Univ. of California, 1988).
  • “Less Matter, More Art: Tolstoy, Briefly,” in Tolstoy’s Short Fiction, ed. Michael Katz (NY: Norton Critical Edition, 2008).
  • "Mistik sredi skholastov.  Andrei Belyi i srednevekovyi mistitsizm." Literaturnoe Obozrenie 1998: 2, 13-20.
  • "The Evolution of Nabokov's Evolution," in Nabokov at Cornell, ed. Gavriel Shapiro. (Ithaca: Cornell Univ., 2003).
  • "The 'Thing-in-Itself' in Gogol's Aesthetics: A Reading of the Dikanka Stories," in Essays on Gogol: Logos and the Russian Word, ed. Susanne Fusso and Priscilla Meyer (Evanston: Northwestern Univ., 1992).

Last Updated: 3/2/09