Carol J. Avins specializes in 20th-century Russian literature, particularly the 1920’s and 1930’s. Her research focuses principally on how writers made sense—and art—of the radical reshaping of society following the Bolshevik Revolution.

In Border Crossings: The West and Russian Identity in Soviet Literature, 1917-1934 (1983) she explores how post-revolutionary writers probed the redefinition of national and individual identity. Her more recent work focuses on Isaac Babel, a major figure of this period, whose stories confront the means and ends of societal transformation and its consequences for the individual life.

In her teaching, which ranges far beyond Soviet literature into such areas as the novels of Vladimir Nabokov and literary responses to the Holocaust, Prof. Avins is also interested in the collision of the political and personal spheres. Prof. Avins earned her PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale University.

Selected Publications

  • “Jewish Ritual and Soviet Context in Two Stories of Isaac Babel,” in American Contributions to the Twelfth International Congress of Slavists, Cracow, August-September 1998, ed. Robert A. Maguire and Alan Timberlake (Bloomington, IN: Slavica, 1998), pp.11-20.
  • Isaac Babel, 1920 Diary, edited and with an introduction and notes by Carol J. Avins, trans. H.T. Willetts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995).
  • “Yurii Zhivago’s Readers: Literary Reception in Pasternak’s Novel and in His Time,” in Freedom and Responsibility in Russian Literature, ed. Elizabeth Cheresh Allen and Gary Saul Morson (Evanston: Northwestern University Press and The Yale Center for International and Area Studies, 1995), pp.213-20.  Reprinted in slightly different form in Doctor Zhivago: A Critical Companion, ed. Edith W. Clowes (Evanston: Northwestern University Press and The American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages, 1995), pp.49-61.
  • Border Crossings: The West and Russian Identity in Soviet Literature, 1917-1934 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983).
  • “Kinship and Concealment in Red Cavalry and Babel’s 1920 Diary,” Slavic Review 53:3 (Fall 1994): 694-710.