Valeria Sobol

 Valeria Sobol

Contact Information

Slavic Languages
3080 For Lang Bldg
707 S Mathews
M/C 170
Urbana, IL 61801
Head, Associate Professor
View CV

Additional Campus Affiliations

Research Interests

  • Nineteenth-century Russian literature and culture
  • Eighteenth-century Russian literature
  • Empire and the Gothic
  • Russian literature and science/medicine
  • Ukrainian literature
  • Czech literature

Research Description

I am currently completing the book Haunted Empire: The Gothic and the Russian Imperial Uncanny, 1790-1850. The book explores the connection between the Gothic mode in Russian literature of the period and its imperial context. I argue that theGothic genre served as a particularly apt form for “the imperial uncanny”—theeffect of danger and uncertainty in the ambiguous colonial spaces withinRussia’s borders where the characters’ imperial identities are challenged anddestabilized. Reversing the prevailing view of the Russian Gothic as animitation of the popular Western literary trend, my project establishes thisbody of literature as a key genre that dramatizes uniquely Russian imperialanxieties and concerns (e.g., Russia’s fluid boundaries, cultural dependence onthe West, and the clash between imperial and national identities) and offers apowerful critique of empire.


  • Ph.D., Columbia University, 2003
  • Diploma of Higher Education, Kyiv Taras Shevchenko University, 1994

Distinctions / Awards

  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2015-16
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 2014
  • Center for Advanced Study Associate, University of Illinois, 2014-2015
  • Center for Advanced Study Beckman Fellowship, University of Illinois, 2005-06


  • RUSS 323/RUSS 523 Tolstoy
  • RUSS 320/RUSS 524 Pushkin
  • RUSS 424 Russian Modernism
  • RUSS 461 Russia and the Other
  • RUSS 418 Eighteenth-Century Russian Literature
  • RUSS 220 The Golden Age of Russian Literature
  • RUSS 225 Russian Literature and Revolution
  • RUSS 444 Problems in Romanticism

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Sobol, Valeria Monakh v Madride. Otzvuki goticheskogo romana Matthew G. Lewis'a 'Monakh' v p'ese A.S. Pushkina 'Kamennyi gost' Filologicheskie nauki 5 2015, p. 75-84.
Sobol, Valeria On Mimicry and Ukrainians: The Imperial Gothic in Pogorelsky’s Monastyrka East/West 16-17 2013, p. 369-387.
Sobol, Valeria Internal Orientalism in Radishchev’s Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow Zeitschrift für Slavische Philologie 68 2 2012, p. 241-269.
Sobol, Valeria The Uncanny Frontier of Russian Identity: Travel, Ethnography, and Empire in Lermontov’s ‘Taman’ Russian Review 2011.
Sobol, Valeria ‘Pochemu zimoi ne byvaet groma?’ Gurov, Job, and Chekhovian Epistemology in ‘Dama s sobachkoi’ Russian Literature 66 2009, p. 217-233.
Sobol, Valeria In search of an Alternative Love Plot: Tolstoy, Science, and Post-Romantic Love Narratives Tolstoy Studies Journal 19 2007, p. 54-74.
Sobol, Valeria 'Febris Erotica': Alexander Herzen's Post-Romantic Physiology Slavic Review 65 1 2006, p. 502-22..
Sobol, Valeria Nerves, Brain, or Heart? The Physiology of Emotions and the Mind-Body Problem in Russian Sentimentalism Russian Review 70 1 2006, p. 1-14.
Sobol, Valeria 'Yes, We Are Scythians': The Image of Russia in Josef Skvorecký's The Cowards Slavic and East European Journal 49 1 2005, p. 79-93.

Book Contributions

‘Komu ot chuzhikh, a nam ot svoikh’: variazhskoe prizvanie v russkoi literature kontsa XVIII veka Tam, vnutri. Praktiki vnutrennei kolonizatsii v kul’turnoi istorii Rossii edited by Alexander Etkind, edited by Dirk Uffelmann, edited by Ilya Kukulin. ‘Komu ot chuzhikh, a nam ot svoikh’: variazhskoe prizvanie v russkoi literature kontsa XVIII veka Edited by Alexander Etkind, Edited by Dirk Uffelmann, Edited by Ilya Kukulin, Moscow NLO 2012, p. 186-216.

Edited Books

Steinberg, Mark, and Valeria Sobol Interpreting emotions in Russia and Eastern Europe DeKalb, IL Northern Illinois University Press 2011.


Photo of publication
Sobol, Valeria Febris Erotica: Lovesickness in the Russian Literary Imagination Seattle University of Washington Press 2009. Author interview.

In The News