Photo of Dana Dragunoiu

Dana Dragunoiu


Degrees:B.A. Honours (University of Windsor), M.A. (University of London), Ph.D. (University of Toronto)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 1556
Office:1925 Dunton Tower

Research Interests

  • Anglo-American and European literature (with a focus on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries)
  • Ethics and intellectual history
  • Vladimir Nabokov studies

Current Research

Though my two scholarly books focus on the work of the Russo-American writer Vladimir Nabokov, they do so by ranging widely across the intellectual and cultural histories of Russia, Europe, and the United States. I am currently under contract to write a short biography on Nabokov in the Simply Charly series. I expect to complete this project in the summer of 2022.

My first book, Vladimir Nabokov and the Poetics of Liberalism, provides an original account of the relationship between art and politics in Nabokov’s Russian and English novels. Challenging the sincerity of Nabokov’s self-proclaimed “supreme indifference” to social and political matters, the book argues that an ambitious, complex, and surprisingly pragmatic political project rests at the heart of his fiction. The full stakes of this project remain invisible and unintelligible when his work is read in isolation from the political and philosophical debates that shaped the highly charged political climate of his youth in Russia. Even Nabokov’s most explicitly “American” novels (for example, Lolita) and his most pointed engagements with American politics remain firmly embedded in the particular brand of “old-fashioned liberalism” that he associated with his own father’s political career in pre-revolutionary Russia.

My second book, titled Vladimir Nabokov and the Art of Moral Acts, tells the story of the subtle and generative interaction of ethics and aesthetics in Nabokov’s writing. The book presses Nabokov’s novels into a triangular dialogue with the achievements of some of the writers he loved best (especially Pushkin, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and Proust), with Kantian moral philosophy, and with a body of literature (the European traditions of chivalric literature he studied as an undergraduate at Cambridge) whose profound influence on Nabokov remains largely unrecognized. This configuration of literary influences and philosophical contexts enables me to give an original account of the formation, career, and legacies of an author whose work remains important for both the general reading public and for academic scholarship.

Honours and Awards

2018-present   General Editor of

2019-present   Elected member of the Carleton University Senate

2015-16           Carleton University Teaching Achievement Award ($15 000)

2015                Faculty of Arts and Sciences Teaching Achievement Award ($1000)

2012                Carleton University Finalist for Capital Educators’ Award

2012-2016       Carleton University Research Achievement Award ($15 000)

2002-2003       Faculty Research Development Grant, Concordia University, $15,000

2001-2002       Visiting Research Fellow, Department of English, Princeton University

2000-2002       Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Post-Doctoral

Fellowship ($35,000/a)


Vladimir Nabokov and the Poetics of Liberalism. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 2011.  Published in the Studies in Russian Literature and Theory series.  Issued in paperback in 2012.

Vladimir Nabokov and the Art of Moral Acts. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press. Forthcoming in 2021.

Simply Nabokov. New York, NY: Simply Charly. Forthcoming in 2023.

Peer-Refereed Essays

“The Afterlives of Odette and Albertine in Lolita’s Final Chapters.” Comparative Literature 72:3 (2020): 340-60.

Lolita: Nabokov’s Rewriting of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.” Nabokov Studies 13 (2014): 20-32.

“Neo’s Kantian Choice:  The Matrix Reloaded and the Limits of the Posthuman.” Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 40.4 (2007): 51-67.

“J.M. Coetzee’s Life & Times of Michael K and the Thin Theory of the Good.” The Journal of Commonwealth Literature 41.1 (2006): 69-92.

“Vladimir Nabokov’s Ada:  Art, Deception, Ethics.” Contemporary Literature 46.2  (2005): 311-39.

“Psychoanalysis, Film Theory, and the Case of Being John Malkovich.” Film Criticism 26.2 (2001-2002): 1-18.

“Vladimir Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading and the Russian Radical Tradition.”  Journal of Modern Literature 25.1 (2001): 53-69.

“Fundamental Ambiguities:  Existential Freedom and Responsibility in J.M. Coetzee’s Foe.”  Critique:  Studies in Contemporary Fiction 42.3 (2001): 309-26.

“Hemingway’s Debt to Stendhal’s Armance in The Sun Also Rises.”  Modern Fiction Studies 46.4 (2000): 868-92.

“Dialogues with Berkeley:  Idealist Metaphysics and Epistemology in Nabokov’s Bend Sinister.”  Nabokov Studies 5 (1998/1999): 47-62.

Chapters in Edited Books 

“Time, Memory, the General, and the Specific in Lolita and À la recherche du temps perdu” in Vladimir Nabokov and the Fictions of Memory. Edited by Irena Księżopolska and Mikołaj Wiśniewski. Warsaw: Fundacja Augusta hr. Cieszkowskiego, 2019.

“Nabokov and Liberalism” in Nabokov in Context. Edited by David Bethea and Siggy Frank. Cambridge UP, 2016. Forthcoming.

“On Pity and Courtesy in Nabokov’s Ethics.” Edited by Brian Boyd and Marijeta Bozovic. Nabokov Upside Down. Evanston: Northwestern UP, 2016.

Lolita: Law, Ethics, Politics.” Approaches to Teaching Nabokov’s Lolita. Ed. Zoran Kuzmanovich and Galya Diment. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2008. 121-127.

Essays Translated by Others 

Życie i czasy Michaela K: J.M. Coetzeego i wąska teoria dobra.” Trans. Piotr Jakubowski. In Wielcy artyści ucieczek: Eseje o Życiu i czasach Michaela K J.M. Coetzeego w trzydziestą rocznicę publikacji powieści. Ed. Piotr Jakubowski and M. Jankowska. Kraków: “Ha!art,” 2013. [“J.M. Coetzee’s Life & Times of Michael K and the Thin Theory of the Good,” in Great Escape Artists: Essays on J.M. Coetzee’s Life & Times of Michael K on the 30th Anniversary of Its Publication. Eds. Piotr Jakubowski and M. Jankowska. Cracow: Ha!Art, 2013]

Recent Papers Presented at Conferences

Lolita and Proust’s Cahier 36.” Colloque international/International Conference “Vladimir Nabokov: histoire et géographie”/“Vladimir Nabokov: History and Geography.” Paris, June 6-8, 2019.

“Liar! Or the Untold Story of Mira Belochkin in Pnin.” ASEEES (Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies) 49th Annual Convention, November 9-12, 2017.

“Time and Memory in Nabokov’s Lolita and Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu.” Vladimir Nabokov and the Fictions of Memory International Conference. Warsaw, Poland. September 22-23, 2016.

“The Senses Don’t Make Sense: Nabokov and Proust.” “Do the Senses Make Sense?”: The Five Senses in Nabokov’s Work. International Conference organized by the French Vladimir Nabokov Society. Biarritz, France. April 28-May 1, 2016.

“The Art of Truth and the Art of Deception: Nabokov’s Pale Fire and Tolstoy’s War and Peace.” ASEEES (Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies) 47th Annual Convention, Boston, November 19-22, 2015.

Recent Graduate Courses

ENGL 5900: The Great Russian Novel: Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina

ENGL 5606: Nabokov’s Lolita and Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov 

ENGL 5606: Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Nabokov’s Pale Fire

ENGL 5606: Kant and the Modern Novel

ENGL 5603: Vladimir Nabokov in Context

ENGL 5607: The New Liberal Imagination

ENGL 5607: Vladimir Nabokov:  Fiction, Philosophy, Politics

Ph.D. Dissertation Committees

Olivier Jacques. Dissertation on twentieth-century British literature and the Bolshevik Revolution. To be defended in 2022.

Alicha Keddy. Dissertation on Modernist women writers. Defended 2020.

Doctoral Dissertations Examined

Roy Groen, Nabokov in Conversation: A Philosophico-Critical Exploration of the Moral Dimension of His American Works. Principal supervisors: Prof. dr. S.A. Levie and Prof. dr. P.M.J. van Tongeren. Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. 15 November 2016.