Teaching Nabokov’s Lolita in the #MeToo Era seeks to critique the novel from the standpoint of its teachability to undergraduate and graduate students in the twenty-first century. The time has come to ask: in the #MeToo era and beyond, how do we approach Nabokov’s inflammatory masterpiece, Lolita? How do we read a novel that describes an unpardonable crime? How do we balance analysis of Lolita’s brilliant language and aesthetic complexity with due attention to its troubling content? This student-focused volume offers practical and specific answers to these questions and includes suggestions for teaching the novel in conventional and online modalities. Distinguished Nabokov scholars explore the multilayered nature of Lolita by sharing innovative assignments, creative-writing exercises, methodologies of teaching the novel through film and theatre, and new critical analyses and interpretations.
Eléna Rakhimova-Sommers is principal lecturer in Russian and global literature at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
INTRODUCTION: The Anxiety of Teaching Nabokov’s Tale of Non-Consent, Elena Rakhimova-Sommers
PART I: ASKING THE QUESTION: WHY TEACH LOLITA?
Chapter 1: (How) Should a Feminist Teach Lolita in the Wake of #MeToo? Marylin Edelstein
Chapter 2: Why I Teach Lolita, Anne Dwyer
PART II: OFFERING SUGGESTIONS: HOW TO TEACH LOLITA
Chapter 3: Not for the Faint of Heart: My Students’ Lolita Jury Duty, Elena Rakhimova-Sommers
Chapter 4: A Requiem for Dolores: Teaching Lolita in a Russian Prison Literature Course, José Vergara
Chapter 5: Teaching Lolita in the Department of Drama, Alisa Zhulina
Chapter 6: Three Lolitas: The Evolution of a Cultural Icon in Fiction and Film, Julian W. Connolly
Chapter 7: Author- Dolores Haze, Charles Byrd
Chapter 8: Nabokov and #MeToo: Consent, Close Reading, and the Sexualized Workplace, Eric Naiman
Chapter 9: Resisting Humbert’s Rhetorical Appeals: A Reevaluation of Lolita’s Ethics, Lisa Ryoko Wakamiya
Chapter 10: Reading Lolita as a Teenage Girl, Francesca Capossela
A remarkably timely, probing, and nuanced collection! As someone who teaches Lolita every year I am keenly aware of the increasing (and rightfully so!) challenges that this instructional endeavor faces these days. I am therefore very grateful for this volume and deeply appreciative of all contributions it presents.
In this collection of lucid and insightful essays, distinguished Nabokov scholars show us how to read an entrancingly beautiful novel that describes an unpardonable crime. By creating Lolita’s infamous narrator, Nabokov challenges us to see beyond Humbert Humbert’s silver-tongued eloquence and notice the suffering that it obscures. Rakhimova-Sommers’ volume demonstrates what Lolita can teach us in an era that holds out promise of confronting and ending the pervasive violence against women exposed by #MeToo.