Associate Professor and SEEJ Co-Editor
345 Hagerty Hall (office) & 400 Hagerty Hall (mailing)
1775 College Road
Areas of Expertise
- Film adaptation
- 19th- and 20th-century Russian lit
- Comparative literature
- Ph.D., Northwestern University (2002)
- M.A., Northwestern University (1997)
- B.A., SUNY Stony Brook (1993)
Legacies of the Stone Guest: The Don Juan Legend in Russian Literature, by Alexander Burry (University of Wisconsin Press, 2023)
The story of Don Juan first appeared in writing in seventeenth-century Spain, reaching Russia about a century later. Its real impact, however, was delayed until Russia’s most famous poet, Alexander Pushkin, put his own, unique, and uniquely inspirational, spin on the tale. Published in 1830, The Stone Guest is now recognized, with other Pushkin masterpieces, as part of the Russian literary canon. Alexander Burry traces the influence of Pushkin’s brilliant innovations to the legend, which he shows have proven repeatedly fruitful through successive ages of Russian literature, from the Realist to the Silver Age, Soviet, and contemporary periods. Burry shows that, rather than creating a simple retelling of an originally religious tale about a sinful, consummate seducer, Pushkin offered open-ended scenes, re-envisioned and complicated characters, and new motifs that became recursive and productive parts of Russian literature, in ways that even Pushkin himself could never have predicted.
Approaches to Teaching Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, edited by Michael R. Katz and Alexander Burry (MLA Press, 2022)
Recounting the murder of an elderly woman by a student expelled from university, Crime and Punishment is a psychological and political novel that portrays the strains on Russian society in the middle of the nineteenth century. Its protagonist, Raskolnikov, moves in a world of dire poverty, disillusionment, radicalism, and nihilism interwoven with religious faith and utopianism. In Dostoevsky’s innovative style, which he called fantastic realism, the narrator frequently reports from within the protagonist’s mind. The depiction of the desperate lives of tradespeople, students, alcoholics, prostitutes, and criminals gives readers insight into the urban society of St. Petersburg at the time.
The first part of this book offers instructors guidance on editions and translations, a map of St. Petersburg showing locations mentioned in the novel, a list of characters and an explanation of the Russian naming system, and recommendations for further reading. In the second part, essays analyze key scenes, address many of Dostoevsky’s themes, and consider the roles of ethics, gender, money, Orthodox Christianity, and social justice in the narrative. The volume concludes with essays on digital media, film adaptations, and questions of translation.
Border Crossing: Russian Literature into Film, edited by Alexander Burry and Frederick White (Edinburgh University Press, 2016)
Each time a border is crossed there are cultural, political and social issues to be considered. Applying the metaphor of the ‘border crossing’ from one temporal or spatial territory into another, Border Crossing: Russian Literature into Film examines the way classic Russian texts have been altered to suit new cinematic environments.
In these essays, international scholars examine how political and economic circumstances, from a shifting Soviet political landscape to the perceived demands of American and European markets, have played a crucial role in dictating how filmmakers transpose their cinematic hypertext into a new environment. Rather than focus on the degree of accuracy or fidelity with which these films address their originating texts, this innovative collection explores the role of ideological, political and other cultural pressures that can affect the transformation of literary narratives into cinematic offerings.
Multi-Mediated Dostoevsky: Transposing Novels into Opera, Film, and Dream, by Alexander Burry (Northwestern University Press, 2011)
In Multi-Mediated Dostoevsky, Alexander Burry argues that twentieth-century adaptations (which he calls "transpositions") of four of Dostoevsky’s works—Sergei Prokofiev’s opera The Gambler, Leos Janacek’s opera From the Dead House, Akira Kurosawa’s film The Idiot, and Adrzej Wajda’s drama The Devils—follow Dostoevsky’s precept by bringing to light underdeveloped or unappreciated aspects of Dostoevsky’s texts rather than by slavishly attempting to recreate their sources. Burry’s interdisciplinary approach gives his study broad appeal to scholars as well as to students of Russian, comparative literature, music, film, drama, and cultural studies.