David Mohammed Benjamin Lyle Herman, Ph.D. 1993


Dissertation: Representing Otherness: Urban Poverty in Russian Literature from Karamzin to Nekrasov.

After getting a BA at Haverford and an MA at Bryn Mawr, I came to Berkeley in 1986. Since 1992, I have taught at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. My teaching here moves in a repeating pattern of Russian culture, second-year Russian, a grad course once a year, and occasionally Tolstoy. Since 2001, I’ve also been the department’s director of graduate studies. After finishing my first book, on poverty and imagination, I spent 2 years writing my own second-year Russian textbook for use (for now at least) by my own students here. Currently I’m working on Tolstoy and Gogol and the paradoxes of literary moralists who reject art as a force for evil, continue to practice it, and strive to reinvent it, all at the same time.

Like a lot of people, I found my first years in the teaching profession a real challenge. Trying to write and teach at the same time, especially new courses you’ve never taught and sometimes never taken (in my case, 13 new courses in the first 3 years) made for a heavy work load, and teaching literature when you’re trained mainly to teach language only exacerbated it at the start. Depending on one’s colleagues, some American Slavic departments can provide a less than congenial atmosphere for junior colleagues, too. With time, however, most of these difficulties generally come under control.

After working at Monticello for several years, my wife now office-manages a small law firm. In 1998, we adopted a 5-month-old boy from an orphanage in Pakistan. In my spare time, I still play soccer to the extent that the encroachments of age allow and practice my mostly illiterate Urdu on our unsuspecting son.

For more, see http://artsandsciences.virginia.edu/slavic/people/dh9a.html


  • Hadji Murat’s Silence.” Forthcoming in Slavic Review, Spring 2005.
  • Poverty of the Imagination: 19th-Century Russian Literature About the Poor (xx + 282 pp.; Northwestern University Press, 2001).
  • “Don Juan and Don Alejandro: The Seductions of Art in Pushkin’s Stone Guest” . Comparative Literature, Winter 1999
  • “Innocents at Home: ‘Poor Liza’ as a Response to The Letters of a Russian TravelerRussian Literature XLIV, 1998
  • “Allowable Passions in Anna KareninaTolstoy Studies Journal, 1995-1996, Special Issue: Anna Karenina
  • “Stricken by Infection: Art and Adultery in Anna Karenina and Kreutzer Sonata Slavic Review, Spring 1997.
  • “A Requiem for Aristocratic Art: Pushkin’s ‘Egyptian Nights'” Russian Review, October 1996.