Biography

I grew up in London and did my BA, MPhil, and DPhil at Oxford, with a year out as a Kennedy Memorial Scholar at Harvard. After my DPhil on Nabokov and Play, I was a Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church, Oxford, and then a Leverhulme Post-Doctoral Fellow at Queen Mary, University of London, before joining UEA as a lecturer in 2011.

My research and teaching interests span modernist and post-1945 writers in Britain, Europe, and America: Nabokov, especially, but also major high modernists such as Auden, Joyce, and Woolf, and later writers such as Borges, Calvino, Updike, Barthelme, Welty, and Lorrie Moore. Broadly speaking, I’m drawn to the playful, or nonsense, dimensions of modern writing, and to the styles and themes related to them. I also have research interests in various theoretical issues arising from modernism, as described in my research tab. I’d be pleased to hear from prospective graduate students in any of these fields.

Highlighted Publications

See All

Nabokov, V., Tolstoy, A. (Translator), Karshan, T. (Translator)

(2012)

The Tragedy of Mister Morn,

Penguin UK

ISBN 9780141196329

UEA Repository

(Book)

(Published)


Karshan, T. (ed.)

(2012)

Nabokov, Collected Poems,

Penguin UK

UEA Repository

(Book)

(Published)


Karshan, T.

(2011)

Vladimir Nabokov and the Art of Play,

Oxford University Press

UEA Repository

(Book)

(Published)


All Publications

See Highlights
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Karshan, T.

(2015)

Portrait of the Rabbit as a Young Beau: John Updike, New Yorker Humorist,

in Writing for the New Yorker : Critical Essays on an American Periodical.

Edinburgh University Press

ISBN 9780748682492

(Chapter (peer-reviewed))

(Published)


Karshan, T.

(2013)

What do they know?,

in TLS - The Times Literary Supplement

(5738)

pp. 10-11

UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Karshan, T., Tolstoy, A.

(2012)

Nabokov, Breitensträter - Paolino (Translation),

in Times Literary Supplement

UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Karshan, T.

(2012)

Introduction,

in The Tragedy of Mister Morn.

Penguin UK

UEA Repository

(Chapter)

(Published)


Nabokov, V., Tolstoy, A. (Translator), Karshan, T. (Translator)

(2012)

The Tragedy of Mister Morn,

Penguin UK

ISBN 9780141196329

UEA Repository

(Book)

(Published)


Karshan, T. (Translator), Tolstoy, A. (Translator), Nabokov, V.

(2012)

Translation of Nabokov's First Major Work, The Tragedy of Mr Morn (1924), a Five-Act Verse Tragedy,

Penguin

ISBN 978-0141196329, 0141196327

UEA Repository

(Book)

(Published)


Karshan, T. (ed.)

(2012)

Nabokov, Collected Poems,

Penguin UK

UEA Repository

(Book)

(Published)


Karshan, T.

(2012)

Introduction,

in Nabokov, Collected Poems.

Penguin UK

UEA Repository

(Chapter)

(Published)


Karshan, T.

(2012)

Vladimir Nabokov and the Poetics of Liberalism: Review of academic monograph,

in Slavic Review

71

(3)

pp. 713-714

UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Karshan, T.

(2011)

Notes on the Image of the Undelivered Letter,

in Critical Quarterly

53

(2)

pp. 12-29

UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Karshan, T.

(2011)

Nabokov in Bed,

in Time Literary Supplement

UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Karshan, T.

(2011)

VLADIMIR NABOKOV Poetry and the lyric voice: Review-essay of book on Nabokov's poetry,

in TLS - The Times Literary Supplement

(5627)

pp. 3-4

UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Karshan, T.

(2011)

Vladimir Nabokov and the Art of Play,

Oxford University Press

UEA Repository

(Book)

(Published)


Karshan, T.

(2009)

Evolutionary Criticism,

in Essays in Criticism

59

(4)

pp. 287-301

UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Karshan, T.

(2009)

Deaths of the Author: Mallarmé, Nabokov, Duchamp,

in Frieze Magazine

125

pp. 23-4

UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Karshan, T.

(2009)

PETERSBURG: Review of new translation of Andrei Bely's novel Petersburg,

in TLS - The Times Literary Supplement

(5520)

pp. 21-21

UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Karshan, T.

(2009)

Nabokov's 'Homework in Paris': Stéphane Mallarmé, Bend Sinister, and the Death of the Author,

in Nabokov Studies

12

pp. 1-30

UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


Karshan, T.

(2009)

Nabokov's Transition from Game to Free Play, 1934-1947,

in Transitional Nabokov.

Peter Lang

pp. 263-82

UEA Repository

(Chapter)

(Published)


Karshan, T.

(2008)

Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita and Free Play,

in Reading America : New Perspectives on the American Novel.

Cambridge Scholars' Press

pp. 97-114

ISBN 978-1847187772

UEA Repository

(Chapter)

(Published)


Karshan, T.

(2007)

Between Tolstoy and Nabokov: Ivan Bunin Revisited,

in Modernism/modernity

14

(4)

pp. 763-771

UEA Repository

(Article)

(Published)


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Key Research Interests

So far most of my published work has been on Nabokov: I’m the author of Vladimir Nabokov and the Art of Play (Oxford University Press, 2011), the editor of Nabokov’s Selected Poems (Penguin UK and Knopf USA, 2012), and the co-translator (with Anastasia Tolstoy) of Nabokov’s Shakespearean verse-play, The Tragedy of Mister Morn (Penguin 2012; Knopf 2013). I’ve also written on a number of other subjects, though, including Ivan Bunin, ‘evolutionary criticism’, and Wyndham Lewis’s portraits, have published a couple of longer review-essays in the London Review of Books (on John Updike and Nicholson Baker), and have written for the TLS, Frieze, and another journals.

I’m now working on a book called Undelivered Letters, about the figure of the undelivered or undeliverable letter in modern literature. This is a central image of Finnegans Wake, but I find many instances of it prior to and after Joyce, in which it carries a similar programmatic charge: from Carroll, Poe, Melville, Mallarmé and Hopkins, through early Auden, Woolf, and Nabokov, and later in Bishop, Larkin, Pynchon, Ashbery, Günter Grass, Orhan Pamuk, L. P. Hartley, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Derrida, and Lacan, to give only a short list of instances. I take the undelivered letter as the definitive image for modernism’s resistance to message-oriented writing and thinking, and I am interested in how the modernist disruption of the communicative picture of language restores texture to language and makes a space for otherwise difficult to articulate portions of experience: childhood, illicit desire, faith, conspiracy, madness, and useless grief. By following instances of this image, I am able to trace modernism back to origins in nineteenth-century children’s literature and forward to postmodernism and modern theory, while retaining a sharp focus throughout.

This book was originally conceived as one of the articles in a larger ongoing project, a book of interlocking essays tentatively titled Literature through the Looking-Glass: Seven Essays on Inversion, which I am also currently working on. These essays aim to demonstrate how important themes in postmodernism and contemporary theory were prefigured in modernism, and in turn how a series of dominant cultural expectations are subverted in modernism and postmodernism: sense, didacticism, work and professionalism, success, taste, attack, and solid forms.

I am also co-editing, with Kathryn Murphy, a volume, Of Essays, which will consist of roughly 20 essays of 8,000 words each, on the literary essay from Montaigne to the present. Confirmed contributors include Gillian Beer, Scott Black, Warren Boutcher, Gregory Dart, Markman Ellis, Stefano Evangelista, Ophelia Field, Felicity James, Kathryn Murphy, Adam Phillips, Bharat Tandon, Jeremy Treglown, Michael Wood, and Tom Wright.

Lastly, alongside academic projects I am also working on an essayistic book intended for a broad audience, entitled A Dictionary of Modern Life, about how our lives are shaped by the ambiguities of a series of words in contemporary language - a book roughly in the territory of Raymond Williams’s Keywords, though more specifically focussed on current usage.

Teaching Interests

I teach on a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules. These include:

First Year:

Reading Texts I

Reading Texts II

Literature in History II

Second Year:

Modernism
 

From 2012 on, I will also be offering two new modules.

One is a third year module, Through the Looking-Glass: Nonsense, Make-Believe, and Modern Literature, exploring the relation between linguistically experimental twentieth-century writers such as Joyce, Auden, Stein, Stevens, cummings, Crane, Nabokov, Koch, Muldoon, Ashbery, and nonsense and fantasy writers such as Lewis Carroll and Mervyn Peake.

The other is an MA Module, Ludism, on the playful element in literature after 1945 that derives from Borges and Nabokov: we will be reading such authors as Calvino, Queneau, Perec, Barthes, Barthelme, Pynchon, Carter, Rushdie, Muldoon, Simic, and Ashbery.