Dina Khapaeva

Professor of Russian, Director of Russian Program

Member Of:
  • School of Modern Languages
Related Links:

Overview

Dr. Dina Khapaeva is Professor at the School of Modern Languages, the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research comprises Russian studies, death studies, cultural studies, historical memory, and intellectual history. Dr. Khapaeva authored six monographs, including The Celebration of Death in Contemporary Culture (The University of Michigan Press, 2017 (Russian translation «Занимательная смерть: развлечения эпохи антигуманизма», The New Literary Observer, 2020), Nightmares: From Literary Experiments to Cultural Project (Brill, 2013), Portrait critique de la Russie: Essais sur la société gothique (Les éditions de Aube, 2012). Her books were reviewed by Cultural Critique, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Slavic Review, Slavic and East European Journal, The Russian Review, The Slavonic and East European Review, Journal of Russian Communications, The New Literary ObserverThe Polish Review, among others. Her numerous articles have appeared in journals including Communist and Post-Communist StudiesSocial ResearchAnnales: Histoire, Sciences SocialesLe DébatMerkurSocial Sciences InformationThe South Atlantic Quarterly, Russian Literature.

Among her most recent book chapters, "The Russian Revolution 1917" in the collective volume Revolutions: How They Changed History and What They Mean Today, ed. by Peter Furtado (Thames & Hudson, 2020) was acknowledged in the New York Journal of Books.

In 2016, she received an Invited Professorship at the Écoles des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris.

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-4300: Imperial Imagination
  • RUSS-4500: Intercultural Seminar
  • RUSS-6500: Intercultural Seminar
  • RUSS-8804: Special Topics

All Publications

Books

  • Russian translation of The Celebration of Death in Contemporary Culture by Dm. Uskov, L. Zhitkova : Занимательная смерть: развлечения эпохи постгуманизма
  • Man-eating Monsters: Anthropocentrism and Popular Culture
    In: Emerald Studies in Death and Culture [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: November 2019

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

    View All Details about The Celebration of Death in Contemporary Culture

  • Nightmare: From Literary Experiments to Cultural Project, trans. Rosie Tweddly
    In: Brill [Peer Reviewed]
    Date: 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).

    View All Details about Nightmare: From Literary Experiments to Cultural Project, trans. Rosie Tweddly

  • Portrait critique de la Russie: Essais sur la société gothique, Trad. par by Nina Kehayan
    In: EDITIONS DE L'AUBE
    Date: August 2012

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

    View All Details about Portrait critique de la Russie: Essais sur la société gothique, Trad. par by Nina Kehayan

  • Nightmare: Literature and Life (Koshmar: literatura i zhizn’)
    In: Издательство "Текст"
    Date: May 2010

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

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  • Gothic Society: A Morphology of Nightmare (Goticheskoe obshchestvo, Morfologiia Koshmara)
    In: НЛО
    Date: February 2007

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

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

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  • The Time of Cosmopolitanism: Essays in Intellectual History (Vremia kosmopolitisma. Ocherki intellectual’noi istorii)
    In: Звезда
    Date: June 2002

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

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

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Journal Articles

Chapters

Internet Publications

Interviews