Irina Paperno, Professor Emerita, Professor of the Graduate School


Professor Paperno has retired but remains actively involved in teaching graduate and undergraduate courses and mentoring graduate students.

For Spring 2021: The zoom room is open for office hours for all each Tu and Th after class. Individual consultations are also available by appointment. E-mail instructor for an individual appointment please.

M.A. (Russian language and literature) Tartu University.
M.A. (Psychology) Stanford University.
Ph.D. (Slavic languages and literatures) Stanford University.

Teaching: Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. The Russian and European Novel in the 19th and 20th centuries. Discourse analysis and close reading.

Fields of Expertise and Research interests: 19th- and 20th-century Russian literature and culture. The Soviet Experience. Narrative and consciousness; the novel; personal documents (memoirs, diaries, letters); dreams.

Interdisciplinary interest: Psychoanalysis.

Current projects: A study of biographical narratives.

Selected publications:


  • “Who, What am I?” Tolstoy Struggles to Narrate the Self. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2014; paperback 2018. Revised Russian translation: “Kto, chto ia?” Tolstoi v svoikh dnevnikakh, pis’makh, vopominaniiakh, traktatakh. Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2018.
  • Stories of the Soviet Experience: Memoirs, Diaries, Dreams. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2009.
  • Intimacy and History: The Herzen Family Drama Reconsidered, Russian Literature 61: 1-2 (Special Issue), ed. Irina Paperno, (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2007).
  • Suicide as a Cultural Institution in Dostoevsky’s Russia. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1997. Russian translation: Samoubiistvo kak kul’turnyi institut. Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 1999; Chinese translation: Jilin: Jilin People’s Publishing House, 2003.
  • Chernyshevsky and the Age of Realism: A Study in the Semiotics of Behavior. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988. Russian translation: Semiotika povedeniia: Nikolai Chernyshevsky–chelovek epokhi realizma. Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 1996. French translation: Tchernychevski et l’âge du réalisme. Essai de sémiotique des comportements / Traduction Aurélien Langlois. Lyon: ENS Éditions, 2017.
  • Creating Life: The Aesthetic Utopia of Russian Modernism, co-edited with Joan Delaney Grossman. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994.
  • Christianity and the Eastern Slavs: Russian Culture in Modern Times. Co-edited with Irina Paperno. University of California Press, 1994.

Selected Articles

  • “Osada cheloveka: blokadnye zapiski Ol’gi Freidenberg v antropologicheskoi perspektive,” Novoe literaturenoe obozrenie No 139, 2016, 184-204. Reprinted in Blokadnye narrativy: Sbornik statei, ed. P. Barskova, R. Nicolosi (Moscow: NLO, 2017) and Diskurs, 21 June 2017,
  • “What, Then, Shall We Do: Tolstoy’s Way (2012 AATSEEL Distinguished Professor Lecture),” Slavic and East European Journal 56: 3 (fall 2012), 333-46.
  • “Dreams of Terror: Dreams from Stalinist Russia as a Historical Source,” Kritika: Exploration in Russian and Eurasian History, vol. 7, no. 4 (Fall 2006), pp. 793-824.
  • “What Can Be Done with Diaries?” The Russian Review 63: 4 (October 2004).
  • “Personal Accounts of the Soviet Experience,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, vol. 3, no. 4 (Fall 2002).
  • “Exhuming the Bodies of Soviet Terror,” Representations 75 (Summer 2001).
  • “Tolstoy’s Diaries: The Inaccessible Self,” in Laura Engelstein and Stephanie Sandler, Self and Story in Russian History (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000). Translated into German: Individualitaetskonzepte in der russischen Kultur, ed. Christa Ebert (Berlin: Berlin Verlag Arno Spitz, 2002). Translated into Russian: Novoe literturnoe obozrenie, 61 (2003).
  • “On the Nature of the Word: Theological Sources of Mandelshtam’s Dialogue with the Symbolists.” In Christianity and the Eastern Slavs. Volume 2, edited by Robert P. Hughes and Irina Paperno (Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1994).
  • “Pushkin v zhizni cheloveka Serebrianogo veka.” In Cultural Mythologies of Russian Modernism: From the Golden Age to the Silver Age, ed. by Boris Gasparov, Robert P. Hughes and Irina Paperno. Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1992. Reprinted in: Sovremennoe amerikanskoe pushkinovedenie. Sbornik statei. St. Petersburg, 1999.
  • “How Nabokov’s Gift Is Made.” In Festschrift in Honor of Joseph Frank. Ed. by Edward J. Brown, Lazar Fleishman, Gregory Freidin and Richard Schupbach. (Stanford: Stanford Slavic Studies, 1992). Translated into Russian: Vladimir Nabokov: Pro et contra, ed. B. Averin, M. Malikova. St. Petersburg: Izdatel’stvo RHGI, 1997.