William Todd: Literature as a Profession in Dostoevsky’s Russia

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Welcome to another of the Maine Humanities Council’s Humanities on Demand podcasts. Here, Professor William Todd gives a talk during Winter Weekend 2014 entitled Literature as a Profession in Dostoevsky’s Russia.

Todd is Harry Tuchman Levin Professor of Literature at Harvard University, where he has taught Russian and Comparative Literature since 1988. His publications include The Familiar Letter as a Literary Genre in the Age of Pushkin, Fiction and Society in the Age of Pushkin, and Literature and Society in Imperial Russia.

Though the “professional” makes few positive appearances in Dostoevsky’s work, Todd argues that Dostoevsky himself “became a consummate professional in the course of his writing career. In so doing he not only participated in the transformation of Russian literary culture, but also took part in one of the salient phenomena of modernization, of post emancipation Russian society: the gradual rise of the professions.”