• Inessa Medzhibovskaya

    Associate Professor of Liberal Studies and Literary Studies


    As a scholar and educator, Prof. Medzhibovskaya is interested in how literature transmits human values in their cultural and historical specificity and universality and how literature reveals worlds hidden from plain view. Her focus in the classroom is on teaching students how to read well and express themselves well in order to think creatively about their unique role in the world. She is the author of the first definitive study of Tolstoy’s religious and philosophical evolution, Tolstoy and the Religious Culture of His Time (paperback 2009), and has published some forty journal essays and book chapters on literature (focusing mainly on Tolstoy and other Russian authors and philosophers), ideology and education, and the interplay of philosophy, religion, politics and literary aesthetics.  She is editor of two volumes forthcoming with Northwestern University Press, Tolstoy and His Problems: Views from the Twenty-First Century, and the first annotated critical edition of Tolstoy’s tract On Life (co-translated with Michael Denner). She is also continuing with two new monographs: Tolstoy and the Fates of the Twentieth Century (for Princeton University Press) and with a study titled Writing and Confinement.


    Degrees Held:

    PhD, Slavic Languages and Literature, Princeton University

    Recent Publications:

    • "Transnational Tolstoy: Between the West and the World," Modern Language Review Vol. 111(3), p910-911 (July 2016).
    • “Leo Tolstoy” for The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and the Arts. Editor-in-Chief, Timothy Beal. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. (One of the 120 articles in the volume and online version, 2015).
    • “Education in Dostoevsky’s Life and Time” for Dostoevsky-in-Context. Eds. Deborah Martinsen and Olga Maiorova. Cambridge University Press, 2015
    • “Punishment and the Human Condition: Hannah Arendt, Leo Tolstoy, and  Lessons from Life, Philosophy, and Literature” for Punishment as a Crime? Eds. Julie Hansen and Andrei Rogatchevskii. Uppsala Universitet, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis/Uppsala University Press, 2014 (137-61).  Reviewed in International Affairs 91: 2, 2015 (pp. 428-9). Revised version “Strafe und Menschlichkeit” in German in Extreme Erfahrungen: Grenzen des Erlebens und der Darstellung. Eds. Christopher F. Laferl /Anja Tippner. Berlin: Kulturverlag Kadmos, forthcoming
    • “Goethe and Hegel in the Commissariat of Enlightenment: Anatoly Lunacharsky’s Program of Bolshevik-Marxist Aesthetics.” Studies in East European Thought, volume 65, nos. 3-4 December 2013 (227-241). Special issue: Hegel in Russia. Advisory editors Ilya Kliger and David Backhurst. published online April 2014. Online citation reference: DOI 10.1007/s11212-014-9189-y. Printed May 15, 2014.
    • “Tolstoy on Pogroms?” Publication, translation and commentary of the newly discovered archival document from the memoirs by Isaak Teneromo.” Tolstoy Studies Journal, volume XXV 2013 (78-82).
    • “Tolstoy and the Jewish Question” in Tolstoi v Ierusalime (Tolstoy in Jerusalem). ed. Elena D. Tolstaya. Intro. Vladimir Paperni. Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2013 (73-108).
    • “Russian Classics on Trial: Reflections on Critics and Criticism.” Clio. A Journal of Literature, History, and the Philosophy of History. Special Issue: G.W.F. Hegel. 41.2 (fall 2012): 73-94.
    • “Ob iskrennosti postupka: simvolika dveri v nezakonchennykh zamyslakh Tolstogo. Volume 4, 2010: 69-79 [Russkaia literatura, 1958-quarterly], St. Petersburg: Institute of Russian Literature, Academy of Sciences of the Russian Federation.
    • “Terror Unsublimated: Militant Monks, Revolution and Tolstoy’s Last Master Plots.” Tolstoy Studies Journal, volume XXII 2010: 17-38
    • “Tolstoy’s Original letter Found: On Benedict Prieth, Ernest Crosby and Aphorisms of Immortality in The Whim.”  Tolstoy Studies Journal, volume XXII 2010: 65-78.
    • “Bakhtin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy on Art and Immortality” (with Caryl Emerson). Critical Theory in Russia and the West. Alastair Renfrew and Galin Tikhanov, eds. BASEES/Routledge Series on Russian and East European Studies. London and New York: Routledge. Taylor and Francis Group, 2010: 26-43.
    • “Tolstoy’s Hieromonk” Tolstoy Studies Journal, volume XXI 2009: 55-63.
    • Tolstoy and the Religious Culture of His Time: A Biography of a Long Conversion, 1845-1887 (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, a division of Rowman & Littlefield, 28 April 2008).  xliii + 404pp. Released in paperback: June 28, 2009. 
    • “Lucid Sorrow and Political Foresight: Simon Frank on Pushkin, and the Challenges of Ontology for Literature.”Pushkin Review volume 10~ 2007 (published 2009): 59-102
    • “Tolstoy’s Response to Terror and Revolutionary Violence.”Kritika. Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History,  volume 9, no.3, (summer 2008): 505-531.
    • “Tolstoy and Religious Maturity” American Contributions to the XIV International Congress of Slavists . Ohrid 2008.  vol. 2: Literature, David M. Bethea,ed.  Bloomington, Indiana: Slavica Publishers, 2008,2:  91-106.
    • “Lev Kassil: Childhood as Religion and Ideology.”Russian Children’s Literature and Culture. Marina Balina and Larissa Rudova, eds. New York/London: Routledge, 2008: 241-62.
    • “Every Man in His Tolstoy Humor: On Lev Osterman, Questions of Method, and More.” Tolstoy Studies Journal, volume XIX, 2007 (108-118).
    • “Simon Frank Confronts Tolstoy’s Ethical Thought (The Later Years).” Tolstoy Studies Journal, volume XVII, 2005: 43-58.
    • “Aporias Of Immortality: Tolstoy Against Time.” Word, Music, History. A Festschrift for Caryl Emerson.Stanford Slavic Studies, volumes 29-30. Lazar Fleishman, Gabriella Safran, Michael Wachtel, eds. Stanford, Ca., 2005 (Part One: 370-384).
    •  “Dogmatism or Moral Logic? Simon Frank Confronts Tolstoy’s Ethical Thought (1902-1909)”  Tolstoy Studies Journal, volume XVI, 2004: 18-32.
    • “On Moral Movement and Moral Vision: The Last Supper in Russian Debates.”Comparative Literature., volume 56, No. 1 (winter 2004): 23-53.
    •  “Teleological Striving and Redemption in “The Death of Ivan Il’ich”.”  Tolstoy Studies Journal, volume XII 2000: 35-49. Reprint: Short Story Criticism ed. Jelena Kosovic (SSC-131), 2010, Gale Group/Cengpage Learning Publishers. Forthcoming.
    • “Hamlet’s Jokes: Pushkin on ‘Vulgar Eloquence’.” Slavic and East European Journal, volume 41, 1997, No 4 (winter):.554-79. Reprint:  the Gale Group/Cengpage Learning Publishers Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism, vol. 204 (NCLC-204), 2008-2009: for subscribed libraries hard cover text edition and e-book.


    Research Interests:

    Russian and Central East European Literature and Culture. Romanticism. Critical Theory. Intellectual and Cultural History. Literature and Philosophy. Literature and Education. Tolstoy.

    Awards And Honors:

    American Philosophical Society Franklin Grant (2010)
    Distinguished University Teaching Award (The New School, 2007)
    2002-2003 Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow (Society for the Humanities, Cornell University)
    Center for Human Values Mellon Graduate Prize Fellow in Residence (Princeton University 1998-1999)
    Certificate in Advanced Polish and Polish Culture, 1996 (Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland)

    Current Courses:

    Alexander Pushkin

    Arthur Schopenhauer

    Faust through the Centuries (Spring 2020)

    Hamlet (Spring 2019)

    Ind Senior Project

    Ind Senior Project (Spring 2020)

    Independent Study

    Independent Study (Spring 2020)

    Labor and Dignity (Spring 2020)

    War & Peace (Spring 2019)