Michael Ray Kelly

Associate Professor, German & Russian

3091 JFSB


Research Areas: , , ,

Teaching Experience

Mikhail Bakhtin wrote, “I have to answer with my own life for what I have experienced and understood in art, so that everything I have experienced and understood would not remain ineffectual in my life.” I strive to help my students understand that the ideas explored by writers are not irrelevant abstractions, but that we need to grapple seriously with ideas and their implications and integrate our newly acquired perceptions, insights, and knowledge into the totality of our lives.


Much of my scholarship centers on Nikolai Gogol, Russia’s foremost comic writer. Gogol is one of Russia’s most enigmatic writers. Many readers and scholars view him as an irresolvable paradox. He is frequently viewed as as a schismatic writer, with the early Gogol being a brilliant satirist and the late Gogol being a tortured moralist whose religious reflections led eventually to artistic impotence. I am interested both in Gogol’s comic works and in his meta-literary commentaries and spiritual treatises. My position is that we can shed light on the enigma of Gogol only by carefully examining the entirety of his oeuvre. I am currently working on an annotated translation of Gogol’s “Selected Passages from Correspondence with Friends.”

Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are also key research interests, although I have devoted significantly less time to them.

Selected Publications

“Chronotopic Perspectives of Dialectics and Life in Dostoevsky’s Art and the Response to Human Suffering.” New Zealand Slavonic Journal 47–48 (2013–2014): 1–26.

“Restoring the Disfigured Human Image: A Gogolian Slap in the Face and Moral Responsibility.” The Russian Review 68 (April 2009): 302–20.

“Science, Consciousness, and Art: From Anna Karenina to What Is Art?.” Canadian American Slavic Studies 41 (Fall 2007): 279–300.

“Navigating a Landscape of Dead Souls: Gogol and the Odyssean Road.” New Zealand Slavonic Journal 39 (2005): 37–61.

“‘Art Is a Reconciliation with Life’: Gogolian Paradox and Aesthetic Credo.” The Russian Review 65 (January 2006): 15–34.

“Gogol’s ‘Rome’: On the Threshold of Two Worlds.” Slavic and East European Journal 47 (2003): 24–44.


I often share with my students the idea that we are here at the university to become a unified community of scholars in which we strengthen, aid, and enrich each other. In current and past assignments with the Russian House, teaching assistants, Study Abroad, assessment committees, the departmental rank and status committee, and so on, I hope to welcome both students and colleagues into a sense of genuine community.

Citizenship assignments

University Faith and Learning Fellow, 2017–2019
Director of Study Abroad Program, 2017
Departmental Assessment Coordinator, 2013–2018
German and Russian Rank and Status Committee, 2009–present
German and Russian Honors Representative, 2005–2011
Russian section TA supervisor, 1996–98
Russian House faculty advisor, 1994–98