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Approaches to Teaching Tolstoy's Anna Karenina

Editor(s): Liza Knapp, Amy Mandelker

Pages: ix & 226 pp.
Published: 2003
ISBN: 9780873529051 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780873529044 (hardcover)

"The essays reflect an awareness of the latest research on the novel, and the range of topics and list of contributors are impressive. Those less familiar with Russian literature or with Tolstoy will find something new on virtually every page, but even Russian specialists will find inspiration from many of the essays."
Barry Scherr, Dartmouth College

Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is probably the most often taught nineteenth-century Russian novel in the American academy. Teachers have found that including this virtuoso work of art on a syllabus reaps many rewards, especially in courses that connect texts thematically (e.g., Adultery in the Novel) or theoretically (e.g., Russian Literature into Film, Theory of Narrative). It also stirs up heated classroom discussion--on sex and sexuality, dysfunction in the family, gender roles, society's hypocrisy and cruelty. But because of translation and transliteration problems, the peculiarity of Russian names and terms, the unfamiliarity of Russian geography and history, and the very size of the novel, teaching it presents challenges.

This volume, the seventy-eighth in the MLA's Approaches to Teaching series, provides a comprehensive resource for dealing with these difficulties. The introduction contains a section on the complicated issue of names in Anna Karenina and another on the setting: time and space in the novel, Moscow versus Petersburg, the Russian country estate, travel, the railroad. Part 1, "Materials," discusses and evaluates English translations and Russian editions of Anna Karenina and recommends works in the critical literature. In part 2, "Approaches," twenty-two seasoned instructors of the novel describe their classroom experiences and suggest ways of introducing students to this powerful work; topics include ideas in Anna Karenina, agrarian issues, Tolstoy's antiphilosophical philosophy, Tolstoy versus Dostoevsky, Anna's dreams, and the reader's moral education.

Table of Contents

Approaches to Teaching Tolstoy's Anna Karenina

Introduction to the Volume

A Note on Citation and Transliteration

Teaching Anna Karenina
Amy Mandelker

The Names
Liza Knapp

The Setting
Liza Knapp


Russian Editions and English Translations
Liza Knapp

Recommended Readings for Instructors and Students
Amy Mandelker and Liza Knapp


Anna Karenina in Tolstoy's Life, Thought, and Times

Anna on the Installment Plan: Teaching Anna Karenina through the History of Its Serial Publication
William M. Todd III

The Daily Miracle: Teaching the Ideas of Anna Karenina
Gary Saul Morson

The Crisis in Tolstoy and in Anna Karenina
Gary R. Jahn

Law as Limit and the Limits of the Law in Anna Karenina
Harriet Murav

Motif-Mesh as Matrix: Body, Sexuality, Adultery, and the Woman Question
Helena Goscilo

Agrarian Issues in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina as a "Mirror of the Russian Revolution"
Mary Helen Kashuba and Manucher Dareshuri

Tolstoy's Antiphilosophical Philosophy in Anna Karenina
Donna Orwin

Anna Karenina in the Literary Traditions of Russia and the West

Tolstoy versus Dostoevsky and Bakhtin's Ethics of the Classroom
Caryl Emerson

Anna Karenina and the Novel of Adultery
Judith Armstrong

Anna Reading and Women Reading in Russian Literature
David A. Sloane

Reading Anna: Opera, Tragedy, Melodrama, Farce
Julie A. Buckler

The Wedding Bell, the Death Knell, and Philosophy's Spell: Tolstoy's Sense of an Ending
Svetlana Evdokimova

Classroom Approaches to Anna Karenina

The Opening of Anna Karenina
Kate Holland

The Night Journey: Anna Karenina's Return to Saint Petersburg
Robert Louis Jackson

Anna's Dreams
Thomas Barran

The Moral Education of the Reader
Gina Kovarsky

Tolstoy Sees the Truth but Waits: The Consequences of Aesthetic Vision in Anna Karenina
Justin Weir

Anna Karenina through Film
Andrea Lanoux

Using Reader-Response Journals in Teaching Anna Karenina
Jason Merrill

Mapping Anna Karenina: A Creative Approach to Understanding the Novel
Mary Laurita

On a Scavenger Hunt in Tolstoy's Labyrinth of Linkages
Liza Knapp

Works Cited


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© 2015 Modern Language Association. Last updated 02/24/2015.