David Bethea


Vilas Research Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature


Ph.D., University of Kansas, 1977



Research Interests: 

Pushkin and his era, modern Russian poetry (especially Khodasevich and Brodsky), Russian cultural mythology, Russian émigré literature, Anglo-American vs. Russian modernism, 20th century Russian/Slavic literary theory, biography.

Courses Taught: 

UNDERGRADUATE: Intensive Russian, 19th and 20th Century Literature Surveys, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekov, Solzhenitsyn and the Literature of Dissent, Nabokov's Russian Fiction, Pushkin's Lyric Poetry, Joseph Brodsky, Minor Russian Novels, Masterpieces of Russian Literature (in Russian), Modern Russian Poetry (in Russian)

GRADUATE: Pushkin, Symbolism, Acmeism/Futurism, Soviet Literature, Nabokov and the Emigré Tradition, Contemporary Russian Poetry, Brodsky and the West (graduate seminar), Pushkin's Evgenii Onegin (graduate seminar), Pushkin's Prose (graduate seminar), Brodsky and his Circle (graduate seminar)

Selected Publications: 


  • American Contributions to the Fifteenth International Congress of Slavists. Minsk, August 2013. ed. David M. Bethea and Christina Y. Bethin (Bloomington: Slavica, 2013)
  • The Superstitious Muse: Thinking Russian Literature Mythopoetically (Selected Essays) (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2009)
  • General Editor, Sochineniia Pushkina/The Works of Pushkin (an annotated edition) (Moscow: Novoe izdatel’stvo, 2006-)
  • Editor, The Pushkin Handbook (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006)
  • Realizing Metaphors: Alexander Pushkin and the Life of the Poet (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998)
  • Joseph Brodsky and the Creation of Exile (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994)
  • Editor, Puškin Today (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993)
  • The Shape of Apocalypse in Modern Russian Fiction (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989, 1991)
  • Khodasevich: His Life and Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983, 1986)


  • “A Note on Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading: The Reichstag Fire and the Execution of Marinus van der Lubbe,” in (Ne)muzykal’noe prinoshenie, ili Allegro affettuoso (Sbornik statei k 65-letiiu Borisa Aronovicha Katsa), ed. Alexander Dolinin, Il’ia Doronchenkov, Liudmila Kovnatskaia, and Natalia Mazour (St. Petersburg: Evropeiskii universitet, 2013), 592-598.
  • "Taboo and the Family Romance in The Captain's Daughter," chapter in Taboo Pushkin: Topics, Texts, Interpretations, ed. Alyssa Dinega Gillespie (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2012), 321-349.

  • "Exile and Literature" (with S. Frank), chapter for Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century Russian Literature, eds. Evgeny Dobrenko and Marina Balina (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 195-213.

  • "Great Art Should Slow Us Down: 'Participative Thinking' in the World and as the World of Caryl Emerson," introduction to Caryl Emerson, All the Same the Words Don't Go Away: Essays on Authors, Heroes, Aesthetics, and Stage Adaptations from the Russian Tradition (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2010), xiii-xxv.

  • "The Nature of Evil in Master and Margarita" (with Sergei Davydov), for the collection Das Böse in der russichen Kultur / Evil in Russian Culture, ed. Bodo Zelinsky (Cologne: Böhlau Verlag, 2008), 205-217.