Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Book Panel. Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment: A Reader’s Guide by Deborah Martinsen

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The Harriman Institute, together with the North American Dostoevsky Society and Academic Studies Press, will host a roundtable discussion to celebrate the publication of Deborah Martinsen’s Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment: A Reader’s Guide (2022)With speakers Katherine Bowers (University of British Columbia), Erica Drennan (Barnard College), Kate Holland (University of Toronto), Greta Matzner-Gore (University of Southern California), Ronald Meyer (Harriman Institute), and Marcia Morris (Georgetown University).

“Deborah Martinsen’s elegant Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment: A Reader’s Guide has much to offer both first-time and long-time readers of this challenging and starkly relevant novel about a debt-ridden student who succumbs to the ideas in the air, ideas which resemble viruses in their ability to infect. In her spare, concise, clear prose Martinsen unpacks the complexities of the novel and vastly deepens our understanding of it. This work bristles with original insights while also making sophisticated use of a wide range of past and more current work. Her book will become the go-to companion for readers of Crime and Punishment for decades to come.”

— Robin Feuer Miller,  Brandeis University

Deborah Martinsen (1954–2021), beloved teacher, valuable mentor, and cherished friend and colleague, earned her Ph.D. at Columbia, after which she stayed on at her alma mater to hold the positions of Adjunct Associate Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature, Associate Dean of Alumni Education, Columbia College, and faculty member of the Harriman Institute.

Deborah was past president of the International Dostoevsky Society and executive secretary of the North American Dostoevsky Society. Her many book publications include Surprised by Shame: Dostoevsky’s Liars and Narrative Exposure (OSU Narrative Series, 2003) and Dostoevsky in Context (Cambridge, 2016), co-edited with Olga Mairova. Although known primarily for expertise as a Dostoevsky scholar, she also did amazing things when she ventured outside of her specialty; for example, in 2016, she received the Donald Barton Johnson Award for best essay published in Nabokov Studies that year: “Lolita as Petersburg Text.”

Deborah worked on completing two book manuscripts during the past year. Her Reader’s Guide, published by Academic Studies Press in February 2022, builds on her decades of teaching Dostoevsky’s novel in the Columbia Core and teaching others how to teach the novel. The second book, A Very Short Introduction to Dostoevsky, will be published by Oxford University Press.

Read the appreciations of Deborah’s life and scholarship published on the websites of the Columbia Slavic Department and the International Dostoevsky Society.




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