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      Avatar photoIlia Rusin

      Greetings, students and investigators.

      This is an initial communication from Shoshana Milgram, your instructor.

      Welcome to “Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment: Investigating the Mind of a Murderer.” I’m writing to introduce myself and to orient you to the course, which will have its first live class on Zoom on Tuesday, April 4, at 3:30 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time (6:30 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time). I look forward to meeting you all.

      Course Website, Syllabus, and First Assignment
      Please visit the course website now to ensure you can access it and to review the material there, especially the syllabus. You will be submitting your first assignment and all assignments there. If you have any issue accessing the website, contact

      Please review the syllabus on the course website for details about the course, including the complete schedule of readings and assignments with descriptions and due dates.

      Before our first meeting, I’d like you to read the first part of our novel and to submit our first assignment on the course website: i.e. formulating a “burning question” that you have after you have completed that reading.

      Each of the six tasks within the assignment is worth one point. To earn the point for each task you need to be clear and accurate.

      The deadline for each assignment is 11:59 P.M. EDT (8:59 P.M. PDT) on the Saturday before our Tuesday meeting.

      Burning Questions Assignment #1:

      1. Formulate a question that arises from your reading of Part One of the novel. Your question should be a genuine question, not one that can be answered by a definition or a historical fact. Good questions often begin with the word “why.”

      2.  Explain how your question has a significant bearing on your understanding of the reading.

      3-4. Explain what you already know (at least two points) about the answer to your question.

      5.  Explain what you do not yet know about the answer to your question.

      6. Explain briefly a possible connection between your question and a passage or scene or event in Ayn Rand’s published fiction or non-fiction


      Please submit on the course website no later than 8:59 P.M. PDT (11:59 P.M. EDT) on Saturday, April 1.

      Course Text to Acquire
      All of our reading assignments are drawn from the following book, which contains the Michael Katz translation as well as supplementary essays that we will read in addition to the novel.

      Please acquire this book soon as possible:

      Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment, translated and edited by Michael R. Katz, Norton Critical Edition 2019 (A New Translation with Backgrounds and Sources and Criticism). New York: Norton, 2019.  ISBN: 978-0-393-26427-2 (pbk).

      Be sure to acquire this edition of the novel, as a paperback or in the Kindle edition

      Amazon US:‏ Paperback (ASIN: 0393264270)
      Amazon US: Kindle (ASIN: B07VHP6VZ7)

      To avoid buying the wrong book, please note:

      There are earlier Norton Critical Editions of the novel. Our edition has the Michael Katz translation as well as some essays that were not included in earlier Norton Critical Editions. I am assigning several of the essays in this collection.

      There is an edition of the Katz translation that does not include the background, sources, and criticism. The course assignments will include the background, sources, and criticism. Therefore: check that you are ordering the correct book: the Norton Critical with the Katz translation.

      If you wish to read the novel itself in Russian, you are welcome to do so, of course. For the course, you will also want to read the essays in the Norton Critical volume. (Some of these can be found in Russian; most cannot.

      About Me
      I completed a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (American, English, French, and Russian) at Stanford University, and, with short breaks, I’ve been teaching ever since in the Department of English at Virginia Tech. I teach detective fiction, science fiction, the Bible as literature, comparative literature, and literature and film, in addition to the usual period and genre courses. Ayn Rand (her life, her writing, her art) has been a major focus in my writing and teaching. I’ve also specialized in writers she admired, including Victor Hugo and Fyodor Dostoevsky. I’ve also published on such figures as Napoleon, George Sand, Victoria Cross, George Eliot, John Fowles, Herbert Spencer, W. T. Stead, E. L. Voynich, Henry James, Vladimir Nabokov, John Steinbeck, Richard Wright, Anton Chekhov, and Leo Tolstoi. I relish the adventure of encouraging readers to get the most out of books that reward our attention.

      As indicated in the syllabus, if you have questions about anything in the syllabus or about the course, please ask in the Class Forum. You may email me ( for non-administrative personal matters. For personal administrative issues (e.g., inability to log on, etc.), email

      I look forward to seeing you in class!

      Shoshana Milgram

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