New Faculty: Assistant Professor of Russian José Vergara

September 8, 2021
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As we begin the semester, we're highlighting Bryn Mawr's newest faculty members. The College supports faculty excellence in both research and teaching.


Assistant Professor of Russian José Vergara

I’m a scholar and teacher of Russian language and culture of the long 20th century. My book, All Future Plunges to the Past: James Joyce in Russian Literature (Cornell University Press, 2021), explores how Russian writers from the mid-1920s to the present day have read and creatively responded to Joyce’s fiction. It illuminates how they have used Joyce’s ideas as a critical lens to shape, prod, and constantly redefine their own place in literary history, and to extend the analysis to the present day, it features interviews with a range of contemporary authors and critics. 

I’m now developing a new research project, inspired by recent teaching experiences, that addresses the latest in Russian prison texts. It examines how the authors of these stories position themselves vis-à-vis their predecessors and challenge the tradition’s form. I’m interested in both narratives written by artists who have been jailed (as well as those who became writers because they were imprisoned) and those who turn their gaze further back, such as fictional accounts of Soviet prison labor camps. I’m also working on a project devoted to Chernobyl’s international resonance, co-editing a volume of essays on teaching Nabokov to Generation Z, and collaborating on a bilingual digital annotated edition of Sasha Sokolov’s dense novel, Between Dog and Wolf. My teaching interests cover a wide variety of topics: Russian language, Russian literature (19th-21st centuries), prison literature, Chernobyl, the Russian novel (of the classical and experimental varieties), and contemporary Russian culture and society. I’ve previously taught courses in prisons, including nearby at OCI-Chester, and I hope to do so again soon.


The Bryn Mawr College Department of Russian, established in 1943, offers an undergraduate program of study that has become nationally and internationally renowned. The program in Russian language is designed to help students successfully attain an advanced level of oral proficiency in Russian by the time they graduate. In addition to language courses at all levels, students have the opportunity to take a variety of courses in Russian literature, history, cinema, and culture.

Russian Department

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