The first sentence in Carol Apollonio's
course synopsis describes her
class as "Dostoevsky with the gloves off.
It's up to students to handle the brooding Russian master without fear of getting their hands a little dirty along the way.
"Dostoevsky has traditionally been read secularly, with all of his dark stuff being psychologically analyzed-'he was depressed; he was schizophrenic.' But psychology can't answer the bigger questions," says Apollonio
class, as a discussion-based collective, to pursue its own answers to the broader questions about Dostoevsky's work.
Such a free-ranging intellectual imperative can lead to some surprising conclusions.
"I think we decided that Crime and Punishment is comedy," she
Unusual for a professor in an advanced humanities course, Apollonio administers daily quizzes on the assigned reading-"How can I do this if they aren't going to read?"-and assigns peer reviews of papers.
The scrutiny is aimed at recalibrating the sincerity and intensity of the classroom.
"I aim for a kind of visceral intellectualism," she
"You should have to think hard and care about what you come up with."
doesn't have specific conclusions in mind for her
Carol Apollonio is an associate professor of the practice in the Slavic & Eurasian studies department.
She holds a Ph.D. in Russian literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
She has worked as a conference-level interpreter for the U.S. Department of State, including at arms-control talks between American and Soviet officials in the late '80s and early '90s.