Dina Khapaeva, Ph.D.

Professor of Russian

Member Of:
  • School of Modern Languages
Related Links:
Overview

Dina Khapaeva joined the School of Modern Languages in 2012.  She received a Ph.D. in Classical Studies from St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia. She studies Russian literature and culture, including the grand literary tradition and Soviet and post-Soviet fiction and film. Her research and teaching interests lie on the intersection of cultural studies, memory studies, medievalism, history of emotions, and death studies. Her most recent book project The Celebration of Death in Russia and America (forthcoming at the University of Michigan Press) compares the ways of engaging with death and representations of violent death in Russian and American popular culture.

In Spring 2016, Khapaeva lectured on Russian ideology and politics at École des hautes études en sciences sociales (Paris, France). 

 

Interests
Research Fields:
  • Literary and Cultural Studies
  • Russian
Issues:
  • History and Memory
  • Language and Popular Culture
  • Literature
Courses
  • LMC-2823: Special Topics-Lit/Cult
  • LMC-3202: Studies in Fiction
  • RUSS-1250: Vampires International
  • RUSS-1813: Special Topics
  • RUSS-2001: Intermediate Russian I
  • RUSS-3001: Advanced Russian I
  • RUSS-3002: Advanced Russian II
  • RUSS-3005: Russian for Herit Spkrs
  • RUSS-3222: Russ 20th Cent Lit&Film
  • RUSS-3813: Special Topics
  • RUSS-4500: Intercultural Seminar
All Publications

Books

  • The Celebration of Death in Contemporary Culture
       In: The University of Michigan Press [Peer Reviewed]

    March 2017

    The Celebration of Death in Contemporary Culture investigates the emergence and meaning of the cult of death. Over the last three decades, Halloween has grown to rival Christmas in its popularity. Dark tourism has emerged as a rapidly expanding industry. “Corpse chic” and “skull style” have entered mainstream fashion, while elements of gothic, horror, torture porn, and slasher movies have streamed into more conventional genres. Monsters have become pop culture heroes: vampires, zombies, and serial killers now appeal broadly to audiences of all ages. This book breaks new ground by viewing these phenomena as aspects of a single movement and documenting its development in contemporary Western culture.

    This book links the mounting demand for images of violent death with dramatic changes in death-related social rituals. It offers a conceptual framework that connects observations of fictional worlds—including The Twilight SagaThe Vampire Diaries, and the Harry Potter series—with real-world sociocultural practices, analyzing the aesthetic, intellectual, and historical underpinnings of the cult of death. It also places the celebration of death in the context of a longstanding critique of humanism and investigates the role played by 20th-century French theory, posthumanism, transhumanism, and the animal rights movement in shaping the current antihumanist atmosphere.

    This timely, thought-provoking book will appeal to scholars of culture, film, literature, anthropology, and American and Russian studies, as well as general readers seeking to understand a defining phenomenon of our age.

    “Dina Khapaeva’s book is a striking illustration of what thinking in the humanities can be at its very best. Starting out with the detailed description of a very unlikely situation in our cultural present, i.e. the tension between a general denial of death as existentially inevitable and a ‘neo-gothic’ fascination with death as a multifaceted object of entertainment, she develops a plausible and then increasingly convincing hypothesis. In her reading, this configuration becomes the symptom of a radical and historically new leveling of the traditional hierarchy between humans, animals, and things. I have never followed ‘riskful thinking’ practiced in a more productive way.”
    —Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Stanford University
     
    “Khapaeva’s book is a deeply thoughtful, clear account of how our culture deals with death, bringing it up close in new literary, film, ritual, and folk art forms. However disturbed we are, we cannot look away, and Khapaeva asks if we have perhaps slipped too deeply into these new kinds of macabre fascination.”
    —Melvin Konner, Emory University
     
    “Taking on the darkest themes of the contemporary nightmarish fascination with death and the undead in Russia and America, Dina Kapaeva moves beyond sociology and psychology to demonstrate how the fictional representations of vampires and other monsters in literature and film undermine central concepts of humanism. Rather than simply a celebration or sublimation of violence, the current cult of death reduces the relevance and centrality of human beings, rationalism, and religion. Lucidly written, her exploration is full of original insights beautifully revealed in investigations of cases from the Twilight Saga to Harry Potter. ”
    —Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Michigan
     
    “Khapaeva explores an intriguing issue of Western culture today—namely, the focus in electronic media and popular fiction on non-human figures and the devaluation of humans. She also explores the linked fascination with death, which she associates with ‘a gothic aesthetics,’ a literary tradition that extends back in time over the past two centuries. She has a new view of these developments. She argues that they originate intellectually in a critique of European humanism and the rejection of human exceptionalism. She stresses the key role of French theory in this but also extends her argument to include proponents of animal rights, who put animals on par with humans. She notes the appeal of recently fashionable ideas of posthumanism and transhumanism in this this respect. The book is stimulating and the topics of much current interest, and I expect the book will attract a large intellectual readership. Khapaeva has made an important contribution to the study of contemporary mass culture, to the analysis of attitudes and practices linked to death, and to the comparative study of American and Russian cultures over the past couple of decades. The work speaks to current dilemmas in Russian and American political as well as cultural life.”
    —Jeffrey Brooks, Johns Hopkins University
     
    "Why is modern culture, both in Russia and the West, so obsessed with death? Are monster-obsessed fantasies such as the novels about Harry Potter and his Russian imitator, Tanya Grotter, or blockbuster films such as The Night Watch, really so innocent? Dina Khapaeva's fascinating and thought-provoking book asks big questions and offers an exhilarating race through unexpected and instructive areas of modern culture,  from thanatotourism to Halloween cookies. The analysis, based on a wide knowledge of contemporary cultural theory and philosophy, is accessible yet original and challenging. An impressive achievement."
    Catriona Kelly, Professor of Russian, University of Oxford, New College
    The Celebration of Death in Contemporary Culture investigates the emergence and meaning of the cult of death. Over the last three decades, Halloween has grown to rival Christmas in its popularity. Dark tourism has emerged as a rapidly expanding industry. “Corpse chic” and “skull style” have entered mainstream fashion, while elements of gothic, horror, torture porn, and slasher movies have streamed into more conventional genres. Monsters have become pop culture heroes: vampires, zombies, and serial killers now appeal broadly to audiences of all ages. This book breaks new ground by viewing these phenomena as aspects of a single movement and documenting its development in contemporary Western culture.

    This book links the mounting demand for images of violent death with dramatic changes in death-related social rituals. It offers a conceptual framework that connects observations of fictional worlds—including The Twilight SagaThe Vampire Diaries, and the Harry Potter series—with real-world sociocultural practices, analyzing the aesthetic, intellectual, and historical underpinnings of the cult of death. It also places the celebration of death in the context of a longstanding critique of humanism and investigates the role played by 20th-century French theory, posthumanism, transhumanism, and the animal rights movement in shaping the current antihumanist atmosphere.

    This timely, thought-provoking book will appeal to scholars of culture, film, literature, anthropology, and American and Russian studies, as well as general readers seeking to understand a defining phenomenon of our age.

    “Dina Khapaeva’s book is a striking illustration of what thinking in the humanities can be at its very best. Starting out with the detailed description of a very unlikely situation in our cultural present, i.e. the tension between a general denial of death as existentially inevitable and a ‘neo-gothic’ fascination with death as a multifaceted object of entertainment, she develops a plausible and then increasingly convincing hypothesis. In her reading, this configuration becomes the symptom of a radical and historically new leveling of the traditional hierarchy between humans, animals, and things. I have never followed ‘riskful thinking’ practiced in a more productive way.”
    —Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Stanford University
     
    “Khapaeva’s book is a deeply thoughtful, clear account of how our culture deals with death, bringing it up close in new literary, film, ritual, and folk art forms. However disturbed we are, we cannot look away, and Khapaeva asks if we have perhaps slipped too deeply into these new kinds of macabre fascination.”
    —Melvin Konner, Emory University
     
    “Taking on the darkest themes of the contemporary nightmarish fascination with death and the undead in Russia and America, Dina Kapaeva moves beyond sociology and psychology to demonstrate how the fictional representations of vampires and other monsters in literature and film undermine central concepts of humanism. Rather than simply a celebration or sublimation of violence, the current cult of death reduces the relevance and centrality of human beings, rationalism, and religion. Lucidly written, her exploration is full of original insights beautifully revealed in investigations of cases from the Twilight Saga to Harry Potter. ”
    —Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Michigan
     
    “Khapaeva explores an intriguing issue of Western culture today—namely, the focus in electronic media and popular fiction on non-human figures and the devaluation of humans. She also explores the linked fascination with death, which she associates with ‘a gothic aesthetics,’ a literary tradition that extends back in time over the past two centuries. She has a new view of these developments. She argues that they originate intellectually in a critique of European humanism and the rejection of human exceptionalism. She stresses the key role of French theory in this but also extends her argument to include proponents of animal rights, who put animals on par with humans. She notes the appeal of recently fashionable ideas of posthumanism and transhumanism in this this respect. The book is stimulating and the topics of much current interest, and I expect the book will attract a large intellectual readership. Khapaeva has made an important contribution to the study of contemporary mass culture, to the analysis of attitudes and practices linked to death, and to the comparative study of American and Russian cultures over the past couple of decades. The work speaks to current dilemmas in Russian and American political as well as cultural life.”
    —Jeffrey Brooks, Johns Hopkins University
     
    "Why is modern culture, both in Russia and the West, so obsessed with death? Are monster-obsessed fantasies such as the novels about Harry Potter and his Russian imitator, Tanya Grotter, or blockbuster films such as The Night Watch, really so innocent? Dina Khapaeva's fascinating and thought-provoking book asks big questions and offers an exhilarating race through unexpected and instructive areas of modern culture,  from thanatotourism to Halloween cookies. The analysis, based on a wide knowledge of contemporary cultural theory and philosophy, is accessible yet original and challenging. An impressive achievement."
    Catriona Kelly, Professor of Russian, University of Oxford, New College
  • Nightmare: From Literary Experiments to Cultural Project, trans. Rosie Tweddly
       In: Brill [Peer Reviewed]

    January 2013

    50444

    Nightmare: From Literary Experiments to Cultural Projecttrans. Rosie Tweddly, Brill, 2013, 263 pp.Reviewed in the following journals, The Slavonic and East European Review, (Vol. 92, No. 4 October 2014), Slavic And East European Journal, (Volume 57, Number 1 Spring 2013), The Russian Review, (Volume 72, Issue 4, October 2013), Journal of Russian Communications, (December, 2012), Inostrannaia literatura, (2012, Number 4), Slavic Review, (Vol.70/4, 2011), The New Literary Observer, (2011, vol.108), Znamya, (2011, vol. 5).

  • Portrait critique de la Russie: Essais sur la société gothique, Trad. par by Nina Kehayan
       In: EDITIONS DE L'AUBE

    August 2012

    1332724-gf

    Portrait critique de la Russie: Essais sur la société gothique, Trad. par by Nina Kehayan, Eds. de l’Aube, 2012, 240 pp.

  • Nightmare: Literature and Life (Koshmar: literatura i zhizn’)
       In: Издательство "Текст"

    May 2010

    392_300_19610_koshbigjpg-2Nightmare: Literature and Life (Koshmar: literatura i zhizn’). Moscow: Text, 2010. 365 pp. In Russian.

  • Gothic Society: A Morphology of Nightmare (Goticheskoe obshchestvo, Morfologiia Koshmara)
       In: НЛО

    February 2007

    coverGothic Society: A Morphology of Nightmare (Goticheskoe obshchestvo, Morfologiia Koshmara). Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2007, 152 pp. 2nd ed., 2008. In Russian.

  • Dukes of the Republic in the Age of Translation: Humanities and the Conceptual Revolution
       In: НЛО

    2005

    1000296654Dukes of the Republic in the Age of Translation: Humanities and the Conceptual Revolution (Gertsogi respubliki v epokhu perevodov. Gumanitarnye nauki i revoliutsiia poniatii). Moscow: Novoye Literaturnoye Obozrenie, 2005. 264 pp. In Russian.

  • The Time of Cosmopolitanism: Essays in Intellectual History (Vremia kosmopolitisma. Ocherki intellectual’noi istorii)
       In: Звезда

    June 2002

    1563255The Time of Cosmopolitanism: Essays in Intellectual History (Vremia kosmopolitisma. Ocherki intellectual’noi istorii). Saint-Petersburg: Zvezda, 2002. 251 pp., in Russian.

  • France-Memory (Frantsiia-Pamiat)
       In: Издательство Санкт-Петербургского университета

    1999

    1France-Memory (Frantsiia-Pamiat’). Saint-Petersburg: St. Petersburg State University Press, 1999. 328 pp.; Russian translation and presentation of selected chapters from Lieux de mémoire (Sour la dir. de Pierre Nora, Paris, Ed. Gallimard, 1984-1993) with preface by Pierre Nora.

Journal Articles

Chapters

Internet Publications

Interviews