Sarah Ruth Lorenz, Ph.D. 2012 (Comparative Literature)


Dissertation: Visionary Mimesis: Imitation and Transformation in the German Enlightenment and Russian Realism

Ruth Lorenz began studying German in high school, majored in Russian Studies at Carleton College, and brought a command of both languages along with her to the Department of Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley. Her dissertation divides its focus between the literary cultures of early eighteenth-century Germany and mid-nineteenth-century Russia, showing how texts from both periods grapple with a conflict between an aesthetic of imitation and one of transformation. After receiving her Ph.D., Ruth taught reading and composition for Berkeley’s Department of Comparative Literature, then she has joined Tulane University as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Russian. Her ongoing research focuses on the understudied critic N. A. Dobroliubov and other members of the “radical” faction. She draws links between their critical reviews and the fictional and journalistic work of their ideological rival F. M. Dostoevsky, showing how both radicals and conservatives in mid-nineteenth-century Russia struggled to reconcile “realist” empiricism with sweeping visions of social and spiritual transformation.