Sergei Lobanov-Rostovsky has taught at Kenyon since 1993. He teaches courses on Shakespeare, Renaissance poetry, film and creative writing. In addition to his teaching and scholarship, he currently serves as Associate Editor of The Kenyon Review. He has also published a series of crime novels under the pseudonym Kenneth Abel. In 2001, he received the Junior Trustee Award for Teaching Excellence, and from 2015-1018, he was Kenyon’s National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of English, developing a series of workshops on literary science writing in collaboration with Professor of Biology Chris Gillen.

Education

1993 — Doctor of Philosophy from Harvard University

1989 — Master of Arts from Harvard University

1985 — Master of Arts from Stanford University

1982 — Bachelor of Arts from Louisiana St Univ Baton Rouge*

Courses Recently Taught

Each section of these first-year seminars approaches the study of literature through the exploration of a single theme in texts drawn from a variety of literary genres (such as tragedy, comedy, lyric poetry, epic, novel, short story, film and autobiography) and historical periods. Classes are small, offering intensive discussion and close attention to each student's writing. Students in each section are asked to work intensively on composition as part of a rigorous introduction to reading, thinking, speaking and writing about literary texts. During the semester, instructors will assign frequent essays and may also require oral presentations, quizzes, examinations and research projects. This course is not open to juniors and seniors without permission of the department chair. Offered every year.

Each section of these first-year seminars approaches the study of literature through the exploration of a single theme in texts drawn from a variety of literary genres (such as tragedy, comedy, lyric poetry, epic, novel, short story, film and autobiography) and historical periods. Classes are small, offering intensive discussion and close attention to each student's writing. Students in each section are asked to work intensively on composition as part of a rigorous introduction to reading, thinking, speaking and writing about literary texts. During the semester, instructors will assign frequent essays and may also require oral presentations, quizzes, examinations and research projects. This course is not open to juniors and seniors without permission of department chair. Offered every year.

From basic techniques of critical analysis to far-reaching questions about language, literature, culture and aesthetics, this course will introduce students to many of the fundamental issues, methods and skills of the English major. Topics will range from the pragmatic (e.g., how do you scan a poem? what is free indirect discourse? how do you use the MLA bibliography, OED, JSTOR?) to the theoretical (how does a genre evolve in response to different historical conditions? what is the nature of canons and canonicity? why are questions of race, class, gender and sexuality so important to literary and cultural analysis?). Students will be given many hands-on opportunities to practice new skills and analytic techniques and to explore a range of critical and theoretical paradigms, approaches which should serve them well throughout their careers as English majors. Our discussions will focus on representative texts taken from three genres: drama (Shakespeare's "The Tempest"), the novel (Shelley's "Frankenstein", Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway"), and lyric poetry (a variety of poems representing four centuries and several traditions). This counts toward the approaches to literary study requirement. Open only to first-year and sophomore students and is strongly recommended for anyone contemplating an English major. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104.

An introduction to the major plays, this course emphasizes questions of language and modes of reading as the entryway into key themes and topics (e.g., gender, identity, kin/g/ship, desire) within the Shakespearean corpus. An initial in-depth study of a single play will enable us to acquire a base knowledge of rhetorical strategies, considerations of performance and thematic development that we will subsequently apply to our readings of other plays. Assignments reinforce reading and writing strategies. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Open only to first-year and sophomore students. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104. Offered every year.

This course will examine the poetry of England's most radical age, a period of revolution, religious dissent and the birth of modern science, of apocalyptic visions and utopian dreams. We will consider how these changing ideas about politics, religion, science and sex shaped the poems of John Donne, Aemilia Lanyer, Ben Jonson, George Herbert, Katherine Philips, John Milton, Henry Vaughan, Andrew Marvell and others. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Prerequisite: junior standing or ENGL 210-291 or permission of instructor.

In recent years, there has been a renaissance of science writing for the common reader that combines literary and scientific merit: from Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" to Oliver Sacks' "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat", from Dava Sobel's "Longitude" to Rebecca Skloot's "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," a series of books that explore scientific questions in a style that transcends the conventions of academic science writing or popular history have brought important questions from physics, biology, chemistry, neuroscience, and mathematics to wider public attention. Short form science journalism has become one of the most important areas of literary nonfiction, recognized both by annual awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and two different series of Best of American Science Writing anthologies. This interdisciplinary science writing course will combine literary analysis of exemplary essays on scientific topics with a writing workshop that requires students to do close observation of scientific processes, conduct independent research and interviews, interpret data, and present scientific information in highly readable form. Weekly readings will be selected from prize-winning science essays and the Best of American Science and Nature Writing series. We may also read one book-length work of science writing. Weekly writing assignments will include journals, observational accounts of science experiments, exercises in interpreting scientific data, interviews, narratives and a substantial research essay. This counts toward the approaches to literary study or post-1900 requirements for the major. No prerequisite.

We will undertake an intensive investigation of Shakespeare's major tragedies -- "Hamlet," "Othello," "King Lear" and "Macbeth" -- as enduring literary and dramatic legacies and as products of a unique cultural and historical moment. How do the tragedies emerge from the landscape of early modern London and in the context of contemporaneous non-Shakespearean drama? What do the plays tell us about the Jacobean theater and the printing house? How do these dramas compare with early tragedies such as "Romeo and Juliet" and "Julius Caesar?" How do the tragedies negotiate religious, racial, cultural and gender difference? Does a coherent Shakespearean theory of tragedy emerge? What is the literary afterlife of these plays? Substantial independent work and full seminar participation are required. This counts toward the pre-1700 requirement for the major. Permission of instructor required.

Individual study in English is a privilege reserved for senior majors who want to pursue a course of reading or complete a writing project on a topic not regularly offered in the curriculum. Because individual study is one option in a rich and varied English curriculum, it is intended to supplement, not take the place of, coursework, and it cannot normally be used to fulfill requirements for the major. An IS will earn the student 0.5 units of credit, although in special cases it may be designed to earn 0.25 units. To qualify to enroll in an individual study, a student must identify a member of the English department willing to direct the project. In consultation with that faculty member, the student must write a one-to two page proposal for the IS that the department chair must approve before the IS can go forward. The chair’s approval is required to ensure that no single faculty member becomes overburdened by directing too many IS courses. In the proposal, the student should provide a preliminary bibliography (and/or set of specific problems, goals and tasks) for the course, outline a specific schedule of reading and/or writing assignments, and describe in some detail the methods of assessment (e.g., a short story to be submitted for evaluation biweekly; a thirty-page research paper submitted at course’s end, with rough drafts due at given intervals). Students should also briefly describe any prior coursework that particularly qualifies them for their proposed individual studies. The department expects IS students to meet regularly with their instructors for at least one hour per week, or the equivalent, at the discretion of the instructor. The amount of work submitted for a grade in an IS should approximate at least that required, on average, in 400-level English courses. In the case of group individual studies, a single proposal may be submitted, assuming that all group members will follow the same protocols. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of their proposed individual study well in advance, preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the established deadline.