Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0003215, Wed, 22 Jul 1998 15:54:11 -0700

"Teaching Nabokov" Conference (fwd)
EDITOR's NOTE. Sam Schuman <schumans@CAA.MRS.UMN.EDU>, the organizer of
the conference described below, is a founding member of the Nabokov
Society and author of _Vladimir Nabokov: A Reference Guide_ (Boston: G.K.Hall,
1977) and numerous articles on Nabokov and others.

Teaching Nabokov

1999 marks the centennial of the birth of Vladimir Nabokov, one of the foremost
literary figures of our century.

A challenging writer in his own terms, and a perplexing one in the context
of canonical attribution, Nabokov is less commonly taught than the
artistic merit of his works would suggest. Does he belong in an
"American" literature course? A "British" one? A "European" or "Russian"
category? VN himself vigorously resisted classification and campaigned
zealously for his own absolute artistic uniqueness. Moreover, his
personal politics, and the thematic directions taken by his works, satisfy
neither the politically correct nor the energetically reactionary.
Tolerant, cosmopolitan, opinionated, virulently anti-Communist, quirkily
anti-Freud, courageously anti-anti-Semitic, Nabokov is not comfortable
classroom fare, especially, perhaps, in the undergraduate classroom.

And yet, this author's English prose is a jewel without peer in twentieth
century letters. His characters are memorable - some, like Lolita and Humbert
Humbert, have intimated themselves into our common cultural fabric. His works
exhibit a rewarding density and an instructive cosmos of cross-cultural literary
referentiality. Most importantly, they are fun to read.

To commemorate the Nabokov Centennial, the Vladimir Nabokov Society (an MLA
"Affiliated Organization") is sponsoring a small, select conference on
"Teaching Nabokov," cosponsored by the University of Minnesota, Morris and the
University of North Carolina, Asheville.

The conference will be limited to 30-40 attendees, approximately half of whom
will be invited. The conference is scheduled to take place in the beautiful and
cosmopolitan blue-ridge city of Asheville, North Carolina, June 28-29 , 1999.
Participants are encouraged to consider arriving in Asheville before Monday,
June 28, to enjoy the scenic and recreational opportunities of the region.

The proposed tentative format is as follows:

The Conference would begin around noon of one day with a full afternoon of
workshops. A dinner, and a major speaker or presentation would conclude
the first day's activities. Workshops would continue the following
morning, and the conference would conclude after lunch on the second day.
Thus, there would be some 8 hours of workshops, one special event, and two
meals. Following the format of, for example, the Shakespeare Association
of America, there would NOT be a formal reading of papers, but a sequence
of four workshop sessions which would focus upon papers previously
circulated and read by all participants. All sessions would involve all
participants: there would not be concurrent "break-out" groups. The four
specific workshop topics could be expected to evolve depending upon the
interests and submissions of participants, but potential topics might
include such areas as:

- Nabokov and undergraduate literature courses
- Nabokov in the Graduate curriculum
- Where Nabokov fits in the Departmental curricular structure
- Pedagogical strategies for teaching Nabokov.

If interested, please contact for further information:
Sam Schuman, Dean and Vice Chancellor
University of Minnesota, Morris
Morris, MN 56267
(320) 589-6015

Sam Schuman

Vice Chancellor and Dean
University of Minnesota, Morris
Morris, MN 56267