Comparative Literature and Russian
See also Russian and East European Studies
Jenifer Presto received a Ph.D. in Slavic languages and literatures with a minor in comparative literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Oregon in 2003, she served as resident director of the Wisconsin program at Moscow State University and taught at the University of Virginia and the University of Southern California. She also held an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Southern California for a year. Professor Presto has published several essays on Russian modernism in Russian Literature, Slavic and East European Journal, Slavic Review, and the Cambridge History of Women’s Writing in Russia. Her first book, Beyond the Flesh: Alexander Blok, Zinaida Gippius, and the Symbolist Sublimation of Sex, examined the problem of gender and self-creation in the art and lives of two of Russia's foremost symbolist poets. Currently, she is at work on a second book, tentatively titled The Frozen Image: Italy and the Aesthetics of Russian Modernism, which explores Italy as a site of visual pleasure and cultural self-reflection for the Russian modernists. Drawing on her diverse research interests, Presto teaches courses on modernism, gender studies, cultural studies, and critical theory, as well as on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian literature and culture.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Ph.D. Slavic Languages and Literatures with Comparative Literature Minor May 1996
- M.A. Slavic Languages and Literatures May 1989
- M.A. Russian Language August 1988
- A.B. Russian Literature May 1985
- Beyond the Flesh: Alexander Blok, Zinaida Gippius, and the Symbolist Sublimation of Sex. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008.
Refereed Journal Articles
- "The Aesthetics of Disaster: Blok, Messina, and the Decadent Sublime," Slavic Review, vol. 70 no. 3 (2011): 569-90.
- “Unbearable Burdens: Aleksandr Blok and the Modernist Resistance to Progeny and Domesticity.” Slavic Review vol. 63, no.1 (2004): 6-25.
- “The Androgynous Gaze of Zinaida Gippius.” Russian Literature XLVIII-I (2000): 87-115.
- “Reading Zinaida Gippius: Over Her Dead Body.” Slavic and East European Journal vol. 43, no. 4 (1999): 621-35.
- “The Fashioning of Zinaida Gippius.” Slavic and East European Journal vol. 42, no. 1 (1998): 58-75.
- “Ivan Fedorovich Shpon’ka i ego tetushka’ as ‘Oral’ Narrative, or ‘Food for the Critics.’” Russian Literature XXXIX (1996): 359-72.
- “Women in Russian Symbolism: Beyond the Algebra of Love.” In A History of Women’s Writing in Russia. Eds. Adele M. Barker & Jehanne Gheith. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 134-52.
- The Frozen Image: Italy and the Aesthetics of Russian Modernism.
COLT 305 Cultural Studies (Spring 2010)
- This course is intended to be an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of cultural artifacts, practices, and discourses. In this course, you will become familiar with some of the major theoretical approaches employed in the field of cultural studies, as well as test the applicability of these approaches to the study of a wide range of cultural phenomena. Typically, we will devote the first part of the week to an analysis a few short theoretical texts and the second part to a discussion of the applicability of these texts to a variety of cultural examples provided by both the instructor and the students. An important component of the course will be a cultural studies project of your own design that you will present to the class at the end of the term.
COLT 430/540 Literary Movements: "Symbolism and Decadence" (Spring 2011)
- This course will be devoted to the study of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literary movement of Symbolism and the related literary movement and mode of Decadence. Symbolism and Decadence attempted not only to merge the the arts, but also to efface the boundaries between art and life. In an effort to grasp the highly syncretic nature of Symbolism and Decadence, we will examine the works of key French, Russian, and British writers within the context of the aesthetic concerns of the period. Among the issues we will discuss are the attempts at aesthetic syncretism, the fascination with otherwordliness, the obsession with disease and decay, the interest in Orientalia and non-Western cultures, and the theatricalization of daily life.
COLT 614 Introduction to Comparative Literature (Winter 2009)
- This course will provide you with an introduction to graduate studies in comparative literature and will pay particular attention to the ways in which the discipline has been defined and redefined over the last fifty years. Our readings and discussions will focus not only on the methodologies of comparative literature, but also on the perceived crises in the discipline and the various scholarly responses. We will begin our seminar with a consideration of a several, early writings in the field, turning in the main part of the course to influential texts from the last two decades.
Image of Jenifer Presto courtesy of Ruth Presto