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New Lecturer in Russian: Denis Zhernokleyev

denisDenis Zhernokleyev is a lecturer in Russian literature. He comes to Vanderbilt from Princeton University, where he studied Russian literature and religious thought.

A native of Riga (Latvia), Denis attended Fresno Pacific University, a Mennonite liberal arts college in central California, where he majored in classics. After completing his undergraduate studies, he taught high-school for a semester before embarking on a three-month travel through Mediterranean Europe. The warm sea and the antique ruins made the lingering thought of graduate school irresistible. Upon his return, Denis studied theology and philosophy at Yale Divinity School.


Denis earned his PhD in Russian Literature, writing a dissertation on Dostoevsky’s theory of vision, where he investigated the tension between the religious understanding of the image as icon and the German Romantic idea of imagery as a mirror of reality, concluding that Dostoevsky’s imagination is best understood as a renunciation of objective perception. His broader interests are in the theory of the tragic, especially as it is developed in the literary philosophies of Mikhail Bakhtin and Vyacheslav Ivanov.

At Vanderbilt Denis teaches classes on 19th century Russian literature, including a first year writing seminar on the Russian short story and a seminar on the 19th century Russian novel. His office is conveniently located in Furman Hall 126. Feel free to stop by!

In his free-time Denis enjoys swimming, music and good food. To his great delight, Nashville is perfect for all three.